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blog
Success At What Price?

What do you expect to be the cost of your success?

by Donnalynn Riley

Society sets us up for the price to be painful. Even the way we phrase the question, we call it a "price" or a "cost". Rarely do you hear the question, "What unexpected great consequences were a result of your success?"

So many times we hear successful people interviewed and the focus of those conversations often is "What did it cost you to get where you are?" 

There is a cultural assumption that if you have success then there is a price you paid. Like there's a balance, something good happened, therefore something bad must have happened. That's how you get the saying "waiting for the other shoe to drop". When someone hears good news, they expect to hear bad news too.

We call it being objective when we do this and it is taught and applauded in schools. Debate teams are created just to show kids that what they believe to be is not a one-sided story. Good & bad, together. This habit that we are taught, although important to coexisting in a society, fundamentally gets in the way of our personal progress.
So when it comes to paying the price, or what does it cost, the price of success... My experience is the opposite of this dualistic system. I am not alone in this, many of my clients have had similar experience. Our experience has been that the price is very, very different than people think it is.

This is how that dualistic thinking plays out: 

When you are in the moment where you wish you could get where you want to go, you say to yourself, "Well, in order to do that I would have to..." and the list is quite long, right? Or maybe it's just one thing that you really don't want to do. The list of negatives often includes: "I would have to not spend time with my family." "I would have to be willing to miss holidays." "I would have to put that project or that work at the top of my priority already list at the detriment to everything else in my life."

When we are thinking this way, we are leaving something out. There would be a cost. 

But the cost does not have to be a negative experience. 

That price could be joy. The price for me has been pleasure, exhilaration, deeper knowing, understanding, even inspiration.

This dualistic or pendulum thinking provides a really good excuse for why you don't accomplish your goals and dreams.. I mean no offense! 

We all have to face our fears, our demons and sometimes we choose to face them head on. In which case, we can move into the "demon-free zone". Sometimes we don't, and when we don't, then it's really easy to talk about what the cost would be if we did the thing that we're afraid to do. So getting to that core moment of what is it that I'm afraid to do is super important. We can delve deeper and deeper and deeper into that at another time.

The story that always comes to mind for me is from when I was very young. 

Youth affords us such an advantage when it comes to using one-sided thinking to our advantage. Youth often doesn't care what anyone else thinks, only what feels good and right in that moment. As time goes on, people tell you over and over again that life is hard. Life is hard, life is hard. After a while, feels like a familiar tune so it becomes a part of your song. So, in my younger days, (when I could only hear my own song) I was able to tap in without there being a lot of noise in my head. (I have since re-learned this skill and passed it along to many others)

So there I was, 19 years old. Since I was about 16 or so I had my sights set on working on the Broadway stages. I didn't have a clear plan of action. I had a clear desire and a deep belief that my dreams would come true. I also had the joy of each day. I loved the design process that I was honing, I loved learning, I loved hearing the outcome of each effort, I loved working with other people to communicate a story. Every day I loved! I first felt that love from people I met at a summer stock theatre, who ended up being connected to people who were connected to my first show on the Broadway Stage. I didn't orchestrate anything. I really let that come to me. Because I let it come, it came very quickly.

And so there I was a young girl working on Broadway and my brother who is older than I am was working down the block on a different show. My big brother was filled with wisdom as all older brothers are (and should be). He said to me, "Let's go to lunch". And we did. I'll never forget what he said to me at that lunch. He said, "you think that this is so easy, you don't know that people work decades of their lives to get here". He thought I was a naive little girl but I can remember thinking that they could have gotten there in the same two years it took me if they just aligned the stars better.

That kind of thinking doesn't go over well with your big brother who just worked a decade longer than you to get to the same spot. But it is true. It is still true for me. It was true for me in that moment. And it has been true for me over and over and over again. It is the same thing when I started a company, many years later, many skills learned later...

I started a marketing and business development company and then I immediately moved to the middle of nowhere. There were many people who told me that there wasn't enough population for a good clientele or good employees. Inside two years I had built the business up to be a national company with great employees.

People like to think things work out because you worked hard or because you know the right people. 

I didn't know the right people on Broadway. I didn't know anybody on Broadway. I did what felt like the next right thing. And when I was completely tuned in and making those actions, I was able to be standing next to a good person who knew the next person, who knew the next person who got me there. And so you have to ask yourself, how long do you want to take and what price do you want pay?

In a way, there is a cost. 

The cost is in the letting go of fear. The cost is in the letting go of sort of the tribal mentality. Our immediate environment has a certain mentality that says that's too risky or it'll never work. Letting go of that familiarity and comfort are costs. The costs are in the letting go process, the cost of growth.

You can actually have it, but you do have to decide what you're willing to let go of and how much belief and good feeling you'll allow into your life. Let me know what are you willing to pay? What are you willing to have as the cost for what you want? Is your cost going to be inspiration or is it going to be your physical health declining? Think about it, make some choices and let me know.

Give it a try and let me know how it goes.


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Donnalynn Riley |  Copyright ©2020  |  All Rights Reserved
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