Guest Blog: “Success” Defined – Nadine Abdallah

The following is a guest blog from one of my interns, Nadine Abdallah, who is currently serving as a Business Development Manager for Raeallan. I asked her and my other interns to start blogging a series of posts that were relevant to them and their peers. This is Nadine’s first post. Hope you enjoy! — Bobby

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“Success” Defined

ImageAs the summer rapidly nears its inevitable conclusion, I find myself thinking of what the future academic year holds. Entering my first year at the Richard Ivey School of Business after completing my first two years of university is an exciting yet daunting stage in my life that has sparked recent questions of “success”. What is success? How can it be measured? And perhaps the scariest question of all: Will I be successful?

The issue of success is a constant thought of many. In fact, a simple Google search will present thousands of articles with titles along the lines of: “10 Tips to Success” or “How to be Successful”. We have all heard it before, from grandparents, parents, older siblings or cousins and particularly the media, that success is centered on a prosperous career and a hefty salary. Although these are important facets in ones life and undoubtedly a measure of some success, are these the only variables that define success in our lives?

It seems that society is completely focused on crossing off items off lists. We’re encouraged to use shopping lists, daily to-do lists, packing lists and wish lists. In addition to these, we have become consumed by an idealistic life list in order to be deemed “successful”. While this list is a great exemplar of stages in one’s life, any deviations or urges to stray from the list are frowned upon or suppressed.  But why is this the case? A successful life list consists of graduating high school, attending a prestigious university, graduating with honours, attaining a high paying job (preferably a doctor or lawyer), etc. but there is no mention of creativity, passion, individuality or the bumps in the road that can be expected in life.

So then, what happens if an item on the list remained uncrossed? Does this become a blockade – a proverbial “Road Closed Sign” that defines us as the, dare I say it (or in this case type it) “unsuccessful”. *Gasp* Herein lies my problem with this life list that has become ingrained within each of us. Life is not static and we are not all carbon cut outs of one another. Humanity is diverse with numerous aptitudes, interests, cultures, backgrounds and experiences that diverge from this preliminary list. Therefore, dropping out of school, choosing to volunteer around the world instead of working subsequent to graduation, changing an initial career goal are not measures of unsuccessfulness but rather individual successes within ourselves

Imagine a world of lawyers and doctors. While everyone would be assured a fair trial and an unlimited supply of flu shots, we would not have aspiring chefs, athletes, teachers or motivational speakers. There are going to be twists and turns in life that lead to some items never being crossed off the list. Instead of being defined as a failure, it must be defined as a learning experience. And afterall, isn’t learning more about oneself the greatest success of all?

While my parents have never been forceful of the list, social stigma has been a cruel dictator, particularly in my life.  My personal definition of success has always plagued me. Yet, I have always admired my younger sister for her deviation from the list. Her sheer passion for the culinary arts is so magnificent. So much so that she refused to even apply to university because she was set on hands-on education at Humber College. Her creativity in the kitchen is not only moving but also inspiring. Her ability to dedicate herself to her culinary passion whilst willingly straying from the basic life list is admirable. I truly respect her allegiance to her culinary dreams and although I have not found a passion worthy of said devotion, I am hopeful and excited.

So many, like my sister have followed their dreams despite the list – so many that have been successful in their goals and redefined the meaning of success.  Mike Lazaridis dropped out of school and now is accredited for his successes in RIM. Gandhi succeeded in doing what was considered the unthinkable in liberating India. These are only two of countless dreamers who succeeded in making these goals a reality.

These past few months as a Raeallan intern, I have learned things about success that I perhaps would have never understood otherwise. How does Bobby with an Aerospace Engineering background and an MBA find himself as the President of a transformational speaking company inspiring others and ultimately taking a chance on myself and my fellow interns Audrey, Anu and Jade? Passion, drive, and a sheer love for what he does. This has inspired me to view success very differently from how I once viewed it (admittedly according to the life list). I hope my message is not misconstrued. It is important to have goals and aspirations. It is important to strive to achieve whatever you desire. However, of utmost importance is not to be discouraged if perhaps a previous goal is unattained or altered. For this is not a failure, but a success in personal growth and development. Now, where does my opinion lie on the definition of success. Simply, dare to dream, dare to be silly, dare to be spontaneous and dare to follow your passions – for ultimately you define your own success.

Peace and Love,

Nadine

Nadine’s Bio: Nadine is entering her third year at the University of Western Ontario. She will be attending her first year at the Ivey School of Business after completing her first two years in Political Science. She has a passion for mentorship as demonstrated in her numerous leadership positions for campus clubs and Western’s Residence Life. She is an avid basketball player and spends most of her days mastering the art of Connect Four.