June 8, 2016 Rodney Cowled

It Took Me 8 Hours to Define Success.

The last 12 months have been a challenge. Not because something went wrong, but because I made a life-changing decision, a decision which will shape the rest of my life.

I Decided I was Going to be Successful.

(I know that sounds weird. What the heck was I doing before then right?)

By western standards, I was already pretty successful and according to data presented by the Australian Tax Office, I was already one of the top income earners in Australia. So wasn’t I already successful? I guess in a way, but this wasn’t the definition of success I held in my heart and mind. The idea of success I held was wildly more grandiose and elusive. So much that it appeared completely unattainable.

12 months ago I came to a realisation; it wasn’t the scale of my desires that kept them from me. Rather, it was the lack of a tangible definition that stopped me from progress. I longed deeply to be successful, but I didn’t know what that meant. I hadn’t defined success. I was a ship without a heading, I wasn’t sure which direction was my true north.

I Had Identified The Fatal Flaw in My Plan

It was time to address it. The next day, I purchased a large notebook and borrowed my wife’s colored markers. As I’d done with any subject that has perplexed me before, I was going to sit down and think until I’d figured out an answer.

Where was I to start with a subject as large as success? I decided to turn to the internet.

Have you ever googled something so deep and as human as, “What is success”? Truly hoping for a meaningful answer, I punched it into a machine. 

The answer was as vague and uninspired as you’d expect from a robot.

Well, That was Unhelpful. Let’s Try Something Else

I decided instead to research people who I considered to be successful and/or had a lot of contact with other successful people. To start, I looked into a few of my favorites: Tim Ferriss, Tony Robbins & Gary Vaynerchuk.

I researched everything I could about them and their lives. I read articles on their life stories, watch documentaries about their achievements and read 8 books. At least two from/about each Tim, Tony and Gary. I’d consumed more information in 2 weeks that I had the prior 6 months combined. I’d taken an extraordinary amount of notes, and it was time to synthesise this data into something useful.

Though my journey was to define success, what I’d read was mostly directed toward “how” to be successful not “what” it meant to be successful.

Was I the Only Person Who Had This Question?

I was hopeful that wasn’t in vain. This information would come in very handy after I had answered my first question: What does success mean to me?

While reading Tony Robbins’ book, Awaken The Giant Within (aptly named if you consider its author is 6’ 7’’), I stumbled upon something that great. All though the book’s title hints towards its how-to nature, hidden inside its cover was the answer I sought.

The chapter that sparked my interest was, “How To Get What You Really Want”. That was it, success was achieving that which I REALLY wanted. I was one step closer, where to now Tony?

Had I Finally Found My Answer?

Tony prescribed a focused and uninterrupted brain-storming session, where I’d write down everything I thought that I wanted in life. It started with how much money I wanted to make and it went far deeper. My life was to be broken down into the following fours areas.   

  • Personal development goals – Things you’d like to improve in your life that relates to your own personal growth.
  • Career/business/economic goals – Anything you want for your career, business, or financial life.
  • Toys/adventure goals – everything you could ever want, have, do or experience in your life.
  • Contribution goals -These can be the most inspiring, compelling goals of all, because this is your opportunity to leave your mark, creating a legacy that makes a true difference in people’s lives.

For each of these, I’d have a set period of time in which to brainstorm. During which I was to write rapidly and not to censor myself. The goal was simple to get it all down on paper. While constantly asking myself, “what would I want for my life if I knew I could have it any way I wanted it?”

I Was Unleashed for 2 Hours to Explore The Possibilities of Life without Limitations.

At first, I found it hard, the underlying thought,“be realistic” popped into my head over and over again. Nevertheless, I persisted and after about 20 minutes there was a shift in my mind – I was starting to allow myself the childlike audacity to ask for the things I really wanted in life. A backyard pool, actually make that a 50-meter lap pool. (just kidding, that would be nice, but it’s not on my list…yet).

I’d pushed through the initial resistance of “rational and realistic” thinking and crazy things were happening in my mind.

I worked my way through the entire list. There I sat alone in a coffee shop buzzing with excited anticipation. The next step, I must talk to my wife. Changes of this magnitude would surely impact her and we’d need to be on the same page for this to work.

5 Days Later Back at the Same Coffee Shop,

Notepad in hand, and this time accompanied by my wife. She could sense the excitement in my voice and had agreed to give up a large portion of her Saturday to indulge me (she’s good like that). Though willing, she could be forgiven for having an “oh here we go again” demeanor toward the whole exercise.

Instead of sitting down, reading out my list and saying “Are you okay with that?” I’d decided on a much better approach. I was going to take her through the same exercise. So we did, I explained the process and then we sat in silence writing out everything we wanted in life.

As we sat in silence, a similar mental expansion of possibilities occurred for my wife. She allowed herself to truly dream without limitations. 

After our brainstorming session, we combined our lists. To our benefit there were a lot of similarities, we were on the same page.

My wife did, however, want 4 dogs. They were not on my list, but we agreed (read: compromised) to put them onto our joint list. I like dogs, I just wasn’t sure I wanted 4. But now…as my wife says, it’s on the list it’s going to happen.

It’s on The List, It’s Going to Happen.

My wife jokes on a regular basis, “It’s on the list, it’s going to happen”, “Get up and go, we’ve got goals”. She says these things in jest, but we both know they as a sign of a deep change in our subconscious. Oh and the fact that my wife is an overachiever and with a highly competitive personality. If she can make something a competition, she will. In this case, it’s an extremely beneficial trait.

It Took Me 8 Hours to Define Success

I’ve never had a more valuable 8 hours in my life.

We’d defined our success, what it meant to us. If my had skipped the contribution section (which I almost did) you’d never had heard anything about my goals unless perhaps if you were a close friend. This section was different it was deeper and it included you & your future.

The Contribution Goals hit Me The Hardest, I Hadn’t Seen It Coming.

While I sat and dreamed I was overcome with the  realisation that far too many people go through life only to lose their dreams and to accept a more “realistic” life. That doesn’t mean a car for everyone (I’m not Oprah). For some people, this means regret in the future, for others, it’s accepting a life of abuse, poverty, low self-esteem or illness.

This reality made me angry and frustrated. Partly because I was them. Partly because, I personally knew so many people who had the potential to be so much more.

If I Didn’t Do Something I’d Go Crazy

So I did. I am going to dedicate a considerable amount of our time and resources to changing the lives of others.

Our family will be a place where those who desire can become great. Our home will be a place where the lost, hurting and wounded may take refugee. A place where they will receive the help and guidance they need to get back on their feet. Leaving with heads high, on a new trajectory.

In that moment, I wasn’t sure how but I knew that someday somehow it would be.

Why Am I Telling You All of This?

Why indeed? It certainly isn’t for fun, as I expect to receive a certain amount of flack for it, I will undoubtedly be judged behind my back, and may even lose some friends in the process.

The reason is related directly to the heartfelt desire expressed within my contribution goals. I want my journey to not only impact my life but yours too. I want us to live the lives of our wildest dreams.

To Share Them Publicly or Not?

I debated internally about whether to share my goals publicly. Initially, I didn’t want to, I was afraid to share them. Why was I afraid? Because, if I didn’t achieve them you’d know that I had failed. Additionally, I wondered would I be mocked for the of goals that I had chosen. Perhaps, people would laugh behind my back. I asked myself, “what do you care about more?” Do you care more about achieving your goals, or do you care more of the opinions of others?

By writing this, I’ve decided that I care more about the former.

Where Does This Leave You?

If right now you’re judging me and are perhaps even laughing. I get it.

If on the other hand, this resonated with you. If you’re thinking, I want more, I want to live a “successful” life. Then, I ask that you do one thing, join me.

How Can You Start?

Ask for my help, give your encouragement to others, contribute your story, ask questions and commit to living your type of success.

To join just say “Hey Rod, I’m in!” That’s all you have to do for me – the rest is for you, the future you. 


P.s. You also don’t have to tell me you’ve joined if you’d prefer not to. If you do, I’ll be able to cheer you on, celebrate with you and to answer your questions.