Guest post: Success is intangible by Kevin Mofokeng

Introspective people are in the minority. Most people just hurdle through life with no proactive stops for reflection. I am not sure what the point of reunions is, but it was the reason I had fretful new client sitting across from me. As far as she was concerned, the purpose of reunions is to ascertain and, hopefully, show off your relative success. She didn’t want to go to her high school reunion because she feared she was less successful than her old school mates. Hence the question: how can you tell the winners from the losers? If you are going to compare your success with someone else’s, you should have a way of defining and measuring it.

No one can tell the true state of another’s life experience, looking from the outside. Social media and reality shows will have you believe that you know a lot more about others than you actually do. It was this exposure to her classmates’ digital lives that had my client thinking she was a loser. Statuses, tweets, pictures, check-ins and selfies receive careful crafting and selection. They are well orchestrated exhibition of what we want others to think about us. Apparently, the average person takes seven selfies before they find one they deem worthy of posting. Most people I know use a photo-editing app to perfect their images before posting them. Life’s messy, with ups and downs, victories and mistakes, good and bad hair days. Some days you are well put together, others you are falling apart at the seams

Success is eternal; I am not saying you should broadcast your lows for all to see; just keep in mind that real life is made up of light and shade. Which brings me to the other favourite measure of success, happiness. Being happy most of the time means you are doing something right. Few people seem to get this; those who do are worth celebrating. Bizarrely, it appears many people think that looking happy is a decent substitute for being happy. A beauty feature on achieving the nude look once caught my eye. It was a two-page tutorial on how to apply make-up to attain what appears to be a make-up free face. The first instruction was to start with a well-scrubbed face. I chuckled at the irony. You could just easily stop there, and you would’ve achieved an authentic nude look.

Alas, increasingly life is a lot less about how you truly are and more about how you appear to be. It is all a well-constructed façade. We are all running our little reality shows, and they are just as fake as the Kardashians. Their life is what happens off camera. What you watch is how they make a living. Similarly, a person’s social media trail is not an accurate representation of their real life. Success in an internal experience.

We have a finite amount of time, energy and resources at our disposal. Every resource you invest in looking happy and successful is not actually going to make you happy and successful. So, how do you know if you are winning at life? When you love who you are, where you are in life, what you do and how you do it. Oh, and when you’re too busy enjoying the sunset, don’t forget to post a picture of it.