‘Let me know when you catch that train you’re chasing,’ he said.
I remember thinking to myself, ‘Train … what is he talking about?’
As I looked up into his kind eyes puzzlement was written large across my face. This was the last thing I’d expected Fred (his real name) to say when he’d beckoned me outside into the sunshine for a chat. He was my manager at the time, and I count myself fortunate to have worked with him.
Today, way too many years later, I finally got what he was talking about. When I say ‘got’ I mean I understood it fully at all levels, not just in my head, but within myself.
What train I was chasing?
Back then, I thought I’d find success in the next achievement, the next qualification, or upon mastering the next difficult thing. Despite catching plenty of those things I didn’t still feel successful. There was always one more station to reach, one more next thing to chase.
Now, trains go fast and I was going as quickly as I could to catch up.
If you’ve ever been on a high-speed European train, or a bullet train, you’ll know that you only get to see the scenery when the train slows down to stop.
I missed a lot of scenery.
Why? Because in my head I was chasing the wrong thing.
My idea of what success was and how it would feel was all messed up. Success, like confidence, is a feeling. It’s not something you can frame and put up on a wall, or on your desk. All feelings are transient. They change because you change or because life thrusts change upon you.
I’ve been learning this lesson for a while. Until today I thought I’d learned it, after all I’m helping others find their success. But the habits of a lifetime are hard to break. Some of my train chasing ways had crept back into my thinking.
Today I feel successful
– EVEN IF IT’S IN HINDSIGHT.
I also know I could have enjoyed more of the ride. That’s all in the past and can’t be changed. I’m glad I chased that train and had the experiences I’ve had.
Now I know success has more in common with butterflies than trains.
How do you catch a butterfly?
Run lightly and pause long enough to allow it to land – it may just choose to rest in your hands.
Chase too hard and it will fly away.
About the author
Jacqui Alder is an internationally experienced human resources executive, consultant, and coach, with over 30 years’ experience in global businesses. She has worked in Australia, Europe, and Asia across multiple industry sectors.
She is founder at Clarity Simplicity Success for Women, and author of a self-coaching journal for women of the same name. The purpose of this business is to empower women to define their own meaning of success.