Real rules to success
I used to believe there was an equation to how successful people lived. If I could crest the skyline above the valley of success, see the trail below, I would be a ball rolling downhill towards the pinnacle of my best life by this time tomorrow.
I believed I would grow out of my acne and eventually be the magnet of male attention that my little sister was.
Acquire patience = relationships will come
I believed I had to get the degree, the job and the marriage, so I set about checking off boxes on the list my dad had laid out.
Complete worklist = happiness + success + admiration
But when the relationship, the degree and the job didn’t work out, I believed myself a failure because there was no way to balance the equation. Eventually, I got married, started a few businesses, had kids but none of these things made me feel successful. My value had been placed in a title to be achieved at some distant point in future. My self-worth was intertwined in achieving success of a label without defining what winning meant. There was no tangible goal so I never met the bar of “good enough.”
I spent a year dedicated to my dream of cowboying. I was moved by the landscapes of the desert, the hardships of physical labor, and the unity that comes with your horse after each new accomplishment. Most people would cave after months of 16+ hour days because the lifestyle wasn’t as romantic as they thought. It was never about romance for me though, I loved cows, horses, land- and I wanted more.
I arrogantly believed myself to be on an upward trajectory to beef production mastery. That changed on Black Friday 2016 when I came off a colt and got kicked in the head. A pick-up ride and a couple of ambulance trips later had me booked into ICU recovering from a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).
The following months were spent starting over. I loved my toddlers, but they overwhelmed me. The woman formerly known as Ms. Independent now had anxiety attacks about doing things alone. I learn to drive and ride again by forcing my brain to tell my left hand to do this or my right foot to do that. My health became a priority because I had been stripped of my super power of operating on no sleep, lots of junk food and an extra pot of coffee on the side. Achievement was no longer measured in miles across the desert, finesse with a rope or the number of livestock panels packed in a day. Achievement was reduced to caring for myself, then my kids, then my mental health.
It took sustaining a TBI to penetrate my thick skull with the lesson that life was not about equations or checklists. It was about being present, allowing myself grace and defining tangible goals. My brain injury and nerve damage leveled the playing field, revealing lies that previously shaped my life.
1. There is no equation to success.
2. Working to exhaustion without an end game was pointless.
3. I had better be the only one writing my life’s checklist!
Today, I use this premise to teach and execute marketing for cowboy gear makers and western business owners. There is no right way to create, sell, story tell, parent, cowboy or anything else! When you fully step into your most authentic self, you find happiness, profitability and an under served niche in the market. When we quit diminishing our value to undefined titles, we serve the world in ways no one knew it needed. Get out of your own way and be the change you want to see in the world, that is the equation to success.
- originally appeared in The Wild Woman Magazine - Outsider Edition