Redefining success

Unfulfilled ambition is an undercurrent of unhappiness, even in moments of pure contentment. It clouds and devalues everything: An awesome job, getting married, becoming a mom; being a good daughter, friend and human.

The inability to reach the summit of your success-pyramid feels like failure, and the thought of redirecting your climb towards something else seems like an excuse for defeat.

For the past 8 years, I imagined reaching my summit would mean becoming a published author. You know, like an author whose books are in Barnes and Noble and available on iTunes for download. In my mind, anything short of—or different than that—didn’t count.

All along, I knew this was bullshit. I knew that success wasn’t a vertical path, and that its definition can be ever-changing. But I couldn’t internalize this.

Well recently, something in my mind shifted: It literally happened last Sunday night, and I can’t tell you how or why.

But there is one phrase that started to surface, and persist.

“I am my father’s daughter.”

I’m not sure what this means entirely, but I think it means allowing yourself to experience success on different levels; having more than one raison d'être.

That’s how my dad was before he got sick. A world-ranked tennis player, turned college professor, turned entrepreneur: He was someone who climbed towards several summits, never restricting himself to just one.

And even after he got sick, even after 4+ open heart surgeries and several strokes, he still tries to climb. His summits included relearning to walk (twice), speak, read and navigate life with a limp and a lame left arm… meeting his grandson, Elliot.

The second time he relearned to walk, I remember him grimacing and repeating under his breath, “I can do anything.”