Worthiness vs Success

Worthiness vs. Success

For far too long we have been seduced into walking a path that did not lead us to ourselves. 

For far too long we have said yes when we wanted to say no. 

And for far too long we have said no when we desperately wanted to say yes. . . .

When we don't listen to our intuition, we abandon our souls. 

And we abandon our souls because we are afraid if we don't, others will abandon us.

― Terry Tempest Williams

Before we can get this party started and you can Warrior Up to join The Worthiness Revolution, we first need to have a conversation about the the fine line between worthiness and success- and how that relates to our ambition in the world.

According to proper definitions:

Worthiness is the quality of being good enough; the quality of deserving attention or respect.

Success is the accomplishment of an aim or purpose; the attainment of popularity or profit; a person or thing that achieves desires aims or attains prosperity.

In the old paradigm that ruled the land before the Revolution, the words worthiness and success were often interchangeable. Your perceived level of worthiness to the outside world was reflected in your salary, income, social status, and many other external markers of success. Which often translated to your perceived level of worthiness to yourself, affecting how you viewed your place in the world, and your ability to move up or down the rings of success- and social status.

For many there developed a subconscious belief that one was only worthy if they achieved various levels of material success- no matter the internal cost:

He’s worthy because he’s a partner at the law firm. Coming from an already upper class background and going to the best schools available- family legacy at the Ivy League university didn’t hurt either- Mike was destined for success by following in his father’s footsteps. Even though Mike’s grades weren’t up to par, it didn’t matter because he had the highly desirable IN- and nothing was going to stand in his way of making sure that he not only lived up to what his family expected of him, but surpassed anything they had ever accomplished. Family name means everything and for all intents and purposes, Mike is the picture of success and worthiness…. If only it wasn’t for that lingering desire he stuffs down in the middle of his meetings or when he lays awake in fits of longing at 3am not able to sleep- that vision of being a musician that feels more impossible than anything he’s ever done. 

She’s worthy because she married a CEO. Gabby grew up on the wrong side of the tracks but had the looks that were going to give her the freedom she so desperately desired. Her single mother worked 2 jobs just to keep her and her sister fed and clothed, and she would always say that when she met her Prince Charming, everything would change. And change they did when Gabby met James. He was handsome and brave, and his start-up was the mythical Unicorn that sold for… well more than Gabby could ever even comprehend. They had it all- the trips around the world, the social media followings, the fashion week parties… But James silently battles with depression and severe social anxiety, and he secretly hates all of the fame. So Gabby takes it all on for both of them, smiling pretty for the cameras while crying in her penthouse suite every night wishing life could just be simple again. 

He’s worthy because his record hit platinum. For Johnny it was always about the music. Always. The first thing he could remember was picking up the guitar and singing, and really nothing had changed in his 35 years. Never did he question his purpose- even when record labels rejected him and bars wouldn’t even let him play in the open mic nights, something in his heart would just not let him give up. Then it happened- while living in his car and having no idea how he would eat that day, he was playing on a corner in NYC and experienced the urban legend in real life of being discovered. In a matter of months, his life went from gathering dimes to flying first class to studios and meeting all of his heroes. He had made it- and damn it felt good. 10 years later and he still is riding the wave of success- and doing it his way. The first record label wanted him to change his image, but Johnny stuck to his guns and artistic expression- and claims his worthiness daily by following his heart in every word written, note played, and picture posted. 

She’s worthy because she has two million followers on Instagram {or insert any social media platform here} and received the big book advance. Julia always wanted to be famous. And she knew she had the beauty that would help her get there. When modeling didn’t pan out and acting proved to be too difficult to pursue, she started an Instagram account to share her day, what she was eating, a few videos on her YouTube Channel, and more. She created a course about eating even though she has zero credentials- and made half a million dollars out of the gate. She was on to something. So she kept on going, posting day in and day out every facet of her life. Even when she didn’t want to. Even when she even got tired of herself. Then the book publisher came knocking at her door. She never wanted to write a book, but they gave her the money to do so. Now she’s in a contract and while her audience is foaming at the mouth to read what she has to say, she’s quickly realizing she no longer wants to say anything- she’s tired of living the perfect curated life, but sees no way out of the fame she created for herself. 

He’s worthy because….

She’s worthy because …..

I hope you get my point by now. Our place in society and our imagined sense of self-worth up until now has been intricately tied to how much we make and what our social status is. And in many ways, we are still living this old paradigm of measurements of success- and therefore of worthiness.

But if we look at the definitions, they are in no way the same thing. In fact, it could be argued that they actually have nothing to do with each other. 

He is worthy simply for being alive. She is worthy simply for existing. And therefore they both deserve attention and respect.

And then the outward manifestations of success become markers of various achievements of one’s life highlighting their own unique path, not indicators of how worthy or unworthy they are at their core.

Sounds straightforward, but for oh- several thousand years this link between the two became the measure of one’s worth. 

Old Paradigm:

If you have all of the outward signs of material wealth and success, that must equal that you were a worthy human being. And if you don’t have those external markers, then there must be some inherent lack in your worthiness that was causing it. Which then perpetuates upon itself.

But with the rise of The Worthiness Revolution came with it a shift. No longer did the outward manifestations indicate the true measure of one’s worth. 

Instead, the true measure of one’s worth became simply the

New Paradigm:

You are worthy. 

I am worthy.

Each of us born onto this earth is worthy.

It doesn’t matter how many cars you have or the job you hold or the size of the diamond on your finger. In fact, at the core essence of The Worthiness Revolution, all external markers of success take on a different lens:

Instead of these things being a sign of how the WORLD views you as being worthy, they have become direct mirrors of how worthy YOU view yourself.

With an added twist: No longer was the definition of success about fitting into a classic American Dream of white picket fences and 2.5 kids, but instead success began to be measured by each individual’s version of Shangri La.

All of a sudden it’s become more about how you FEEL about what you are doing in the world and how you are living it, instead of living the life that you believe you have to have. Success for a growing number of the population no longer means the steady corporate or union job that would give you a salary, a mortgage and chance to retire at 61.

Instead, success has begun to look like a million different paths that each led to one place- fulfillment. Expansion. Embodiment.

By removing the illusion of stability that the prior definition of success had created, an entire population has been given an opportunity to redefine exactly what success means for them. No longer are salaries and houses with a white picket fence the ultimate vision of success. For many, these had been attained only to be taken away abruptly, leaving many to not only release them, but no longer want them in the first place.

Entrepreneurship began to flourish and now is considered just as respectful as a corporate job. Newspapers like The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times began reporting that the tide had turned for renting to now be more financially advantageous than buying a house. Women began to shatter glass ceilings of income they never dreamed of achieving in a job, while also having a balance with life at home. A larger percentage of women began to make the empowered choice that getting married or having children or even being in a relationship at all is not their own life path. And many housewives suddenly turned hobbies into legit businesses that often saved their families from financial ruin.

The measure of success has shifted to be each person living out their own version of success, reaching for their own personal visions instead of the visions of prior generations. And the measure of worthiness suddenly became not how much you have or what you have accomplished, but instead became an inherent right. 

And for most, the journey to defining success on their your own terms is the journey straight into the heart of believing in your inherent worthiness.

And a journey it certainly is. If part of your path and destiny in this lifetime is to truly claim your worthiness and own it, likely you will face this exploration many times in your life. 

Chris has always has a deep connection to nature that helped him heal from sexual abuse as a child. When he graduated high school his family wanted him to go to trade school to become a plumber, mason or the big score- a nurse. Chris tried a few of these jobs but always wound up hurting his back, getting fired, or slipping into depressions because the boredom made him think about what happened to him, and that would send him spiraling. Chris knew deep in his heart that he needed to be in nature, and he deeply wanted to help others feel and connect to their bodies. So he left home and adventured around the world to find who he truly is- much to the consternation of his parents who just can’t understand why he can’t get a REAL JOB that has a pension a steady pay check. But Chris refuses to give in and pursues his passion, creating a 6-figure massage practice and surfing every morning- creating a more stable income than any of those jobs ever would have done, while also following his heart. 

Paul and Bernadette were the story of the couple who made it. Coming from a tough neighborhood they met at 17 years old and have been together ever since. They had a dream to go west and create a new life for themselves, and for 10 years they did just that- owning restaurants, being leaders in their communities. And then- the kids came. And with them- the pressures to be responsible. So they moved home, and they hung up their chef’s aprons for suits, and joined the corporate world. Being able to afford more than their families ever had, they gave their girls everything- from horses to high-end education to Disney vacations every year. It was the picture of perfect- but inside something was not fulfilled. Money was lost. People were hurt, and eventually they said No More. No more companies robbing us, no more long hours, no more selling our souls to keep up. They sold the house, quit their jobs, and eventually founded a non-profit. Little did they know at the time that this little non-profit set up to help people who had been where they were, would grow like wildfire- and reignite the fire within them both that they felt all those years ago out west that they thought had been lost forever. 

Jen had always been headstrong

When I was 12 years old, I was diagnosed with Lyme’s Disease. At the time it was a fairly-unknown disease that most doctors could not understand. The right half of my face was paralyzed for several months (as well as other symptoms) and my classmates had no idea how to handle it. It was the first time in my life where I truly felt unworthy. While I was scoring straight A’s and winning awards (success), I felt like the freak who couldn’t even smile when she went up on stage to accept them (feeling unworthy).

The same pattern repeated itself throughout my academic career. I was valedictorian of my highly-competitive all girls College Prep high school, but always felt like an outsider who didn’t fit into any group of friends. In university I participated in an exclusive Wall Street Program in the World Trade Center, achieving summa cum laude and graduating with a position at one of the largest financial firms in the world, but I was drinking heavily most nights as a way to fit in with who I perceived to be the most worthy (read: popular) of my classmates.

This double edged sword of living a successful life on the outside with a secret belief that I still was not worthy reached it’s peak when I was a successful executive in finance. I had all of the outward manifestations of what would be considered a ‘worthy’ woman. But inside, I still questioned deep down at my core whether that was true. If anyone had looked in at my life from the outside they would- quite frankly- probably have been jealous. I was living the dream so to say, and I did at times encounter girlfriends who expressed jealousy at all I had created in my life.

When I left that world at the start of the Great Recession and started my own business, a lot of the external markers of success disappeared. In fact, I went in the exact opposite direction- becoming a nomad in Bali for almost a year then seriously downgrading my home situation. Not able to find steady work while simultaneously making large investments in trainings I needed to get the required licenses grow my business, I went from a 6-figure salary with zero-debt, to severely in debt with no significant sources of income on the horizon.

Eventually, 18 months after leaving finance, I made the empowered decision to declare bankruptcy and take back the power in my relationship with success and money. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done, as well as one of the most empowering actions of my life that opened doors I never believed were even available. 

I had to experience the metaphorical Fall to Grace of an epic failure for the first time in my life to really truly face all of the parts of myself who believed she was still not worthy. 

Out of the ashes of that bankruptcy, I built a business and that set my soul on fire- doing things on my terms every step of the way. At times I felt like no one understood. There were days where I had no idea how I was going to make it work, but make it work I did. There were tough conversations, difficult decisions, long nights working way more than I ever had in corporate- but I made it happen.

 

Jennifer BlackstockComment