The prompt for this month’s blog post was 'reflect and celebrate'. Back in the halcyon* days of a year ago, when we were sketching out themes for our 2020 blogs and newsletters, it seemed like an appropriate topic for the last month of the year. We were full of plans and anticipation for the year ahead and confident that by the end of this year we would all have reason to celebrate.
No-one could have predicted the events that unfolded in March, when the word ‘unprecedented’ was on everyone’s lips. Whether pivoting our businesses, adjusting to home working or simply trying to hold mind, body and soul together, any plans we had made for the year quickly seemed irrelevant.
All in all, success in December doesn’t quite look like we thought it would back in January. We've had to adjust our expectations but it doesn’t mean we have nothing to celebrate.
We launched the Tribe Women pilot programme with a campaign which highlighted different women describing what success looks like to them.
We wanted to challenge old ideas that success is always rooted in wealth, status and material trappings, that bigger is always better. And if you didn’t feel you’d achieved then you should just fake it until you did.
I’m sure I’m not alone in having felt intimidated in the past, reading profiles of inspirational people, scanning CVs on LinkedIn, listening to interviews with influencers and trail blazers. The first instinct is to compare and ask yourself what have I done with my life?
The problem with this is that we usually don’t have the full picture.
Behind almost every extraordinary person there will be countless tales of mundane struggles, chance encounters, setbacks and times when life just happened. We are each the sum of a rich collection of experiences and relationships, good and bad. We don’t tend to highlight these because we don’t see them as worthy of fanfare. But the humdrum detail of our lives is often what connects us and that feels like something to be celebrated.
On our programme you will have the opportunity to think of your life as a story. Everyone has a story of course but most of us find it hard to see what is meaningful or worth telling. Our encouragement to you is to take the time to reflect on your life’s progress, the twists and turns it has taken. It is all significant, in terms of where you find yourself now and working out your future direction.
Your story is more interesting than you think, telling it enables you to be heard, recognised and acknowledged by others. Recently, I’ve been drawn to reading more non-fiction, memoirs and autobiography and not by celebrities or even anyone particularly high profile. I’m interested in reading about ‘ordinary people’ because they are the ones that are extraordinary to me.
Success doesn’t have to be headline grabbing, it won’t always win you accolades or titles, it may even go largely unnoticed, but it is always worth celebrating. Feeling successful comes from within and should be determined only by the things that we decide are important to us.
As for the times, like 2020, when life didn’t go as planned, we must resist the tendency to forget and bury bad experiences. Our challenges and difficulties define us as much as our successes, they become part of our story and our identity and connect us to one another. Through hardships we learn, grow and develop resilience.
By Melissa McConnell
*Halcyon: a mythical bird of Greek legend. It was believed that the Halcyon bird made a floating nest in the Aegean Sea. They thought that during her nesting period, she had the ability to calm the waves. When the Halcyon was nesting around the winter solstice, fourteen days of calm weather were to be expected. Our current use of 'halcyon days' tends to be nostalgic and recalling of the seemingly endless sunny days of youth but the original halcyon days were in the depths of winter.