Stop the comparison-itis. Comparing yourself to others leads to nothing good. Plus you’re probably comparing yourself to their middle game and you have no idea what they went through to get there. That saying of “The only person you should be in competition with is yourself” is so true.
Have you ever noticed how often we equate success with more? Whether that’s more products, more profits, more activities or more accomplishments, we buy into the belief that we have to do more to have more to be more. And that will sum up to success. And then along comes The Great Resignation. Where employees are signaling that the “more” that’s being offered — even more pay, more perks, and more PTO — isn’t summing up to success for them. We visited with leaders who are redefining what success means now. Their answers might surprise you.
As a part of this series, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Jen Gardiner.
Jen Gardiner in a nutshell is a “Jen-of-All-Trades”. In more technical terms she is a Film & TV Actor, Producer, Award-Winning Cake Artist, Talk Show Host, Founder of The Lakoda Project, Entrepreneur of over 18+ years and Mom of 5. Jen Gardiner started her first company at the age of 20 (CJ’s Cakes)just after her first son was born and eventually, the name transitioned to Sweet Treats By Jen. Jen started acting professionally in 2018 landing her first two lead roles right out of the gate. You can catch her on Amazon Prime in the multi-award-winning feature film The Taste of Blood and soon Martyrs- The Chronicles of Blood and I, Terrorist (2022). When she’s not acting or creating art out of cake you can find her hosting Coffee Chat with Jen Gardiner or working on The Lakoda Project (an initiative to tackle food insecurity and homelessness worldwide.
Thank you for making time to visit with us about the topic of our time. Our readers would like to get to know you a bit better. Can you please tell us about one or two life experiences that most shaped who you are today?
Well, the first one I don’t remember any of it. I was born to Laura and John Scott. In all seriousness though my parents have had a huge positive impact on shaping me into the person I am today. They are two of the most thoughtful, kind, caring and giving people I know. Watching them growing up has instilled in me to do those things too and I am so grateful that they are my parents.
The second one would have to be getting pregnant at 19 and having a child at the age of 20. All of my school years I had wanted to be a doctor. Specifically a neonatal surgeon. I let that life event detour me from that plan. I’m glad I did though as it took me down another path and has led to so many incredible opportunities. As a result of not going through for a doctor I started taking a cake decorating course with my Mom which led me to opening my first company at the age of 20. Firm believer everything happens for a reason.
We all have myths and misconceptions about success. What are some myths or misconceptions that you used to believe?
I used to have it in my head that success was following this life pattern of going to school, getting a good job, getting married and having kids. Get promoted at your job and make a lot of money and if you did those things you were considered successful. Or people who drove fancy cars and had lots of money or were famous were successful.
How has your definition of success changed?
For far too long success has been based on financial and material objects. Making lots of money, having fast or expensive cars, getting a big house, being famous or fancy titles, etc
I am now a firm believer that the number one definition of success should be based on happiness. If you have a good paying job but you’re miserable, are you really successful?
Happiness and success looks different for everyone though. Happiness and success are very personal so there shouldn’t be this cookie cutter version of success anymore that everyone has to live up to or they’re not considered successful. A person should look inside themselves for what success would look like for them.
We need to stop looking for external validation from others for success. You and you alone can determine what success is for you because again it’s personal to you. So every week now I do a little check-in with myself on how I’m feeling and what I did that week. If something is weighing me down or not bringing me joy then I take time to evaluate what to do about it. You get one life. Might as well be happy.
The pandemic, in many ways, was a time of collective self-reflection. What changes do you believe we need to make as a society to access success post pandemic?
I think we need to learn to tune out of the noise. Everyone’s got an opinion. Everyone judges. If you let those people get inside your head then it eats away at you and you start to think you have to start living up to someone else’s expectation of success for you. Unfollow accounts that make you feel bad about yourself, distance yourself from people that don’t have your back. If you choose not to unfollow people then make a conscious effort to remember you have no idea what is fully going on behind the scenes in the life of that Instagram person. You’re getting the highlight reel of what they want to show you. Learn to compare yourself to only yourself and not others. That’s the person you should be competing with. You. Things like self hypnosis, meditation or some form of other relaxation technique to help you with your mindset. Making small changes in your life that increase your happiness will lead to many opportunities. Mindset is such a huge key in what someone’s version of success is. We literally speak and think our lives into existence. If you don’t have what you want in life then really take a look at what you’re thinking and the words you’re saying. What you’re focusing on is what you will bring into your life. So if you’re focusing on the suck and the words you’re saying are negative then guess what…that’s what you’ll get. If you focus on everything you’re grateful for and you talk mainly positive to yourself (we all have bad days) then that’s what you’ll bring into your life. We’re bio-electromagnetic beings. So what we put out we attract. So to summarize, tune out, get rid of or cut back on anything that makes you feel bad. Stop looking for external validation and comparing yourself to others. Lastly, really look at how you’re talking to yourself and the thoughts you’re thinking.
What do you see as the unexpected positives in the pandemic? We would love to hear a few of your stories or examples.
While being in lockdowns isn’t ideal it did give me much more quality time with my kids and family which I loved. I was able to take the kids to the park more and do more fun activities at home with them like crafts or movie marathons. Having those extra moments with them at these ages is so precious. When they’re in school or you’re at work you’re losing out on 30–40 hours a week usually with your kids and they grow so fast. So, that extra time with them during lockdowns was amazing.
Also being at home I was able to take tons of classes and training and really focus on my self growth. I now have my NLP Master Certification and am taking Cognitive Behavioral Therapy too. I was able to take additional mindset and business programs and acting classes via zoom which I might not have had the chance or time too if we weren’t stuck at home. With 5 kids it’s hard to take in person classes a lot of the time. So the fact a lot of classes went online that I’ve been wanting to take when I couldn’t before was a huge bonus.
We’re all looking for answers about how to be successful now. Could you please share “5 Ways To Redefine Success Now?”
- First and foremost I think you need to ask yourself “Are you happy?” If you’re not, take time to think about what would actually make you happy. You get one life and the time is going to pass anyways, so you might as well do things that make you happy.
- Secondly, I think we need to celebrate the small wins and not just the big wins. It’s not just about the destination, it’s about enjoying the journey. So taking time each day to think of a win and writing it down in a journal really helps with your mindset. I do this with my kids a lot when they’re having a bad day. If they keep complaining and I don’t hear anything good about their day I ask them to tell me what’s one positive thing from today. It instantly improves their mood and changes their perspective. This practice is amazing for every day though, not just bad days.
- Stop the comparison-itis. Comparing yourself to others leads to nothing good. Plus you’re probably comparing yourself to their middle game and you have no idea what they went through to get there. That saying of “The only person you should be in competition with is yourself” is so true.
- Be open to change or transformation. A lot of the time we have a goal in mind but we’re still performing at our current level. We need to perform at the level of that person we want to become though, to reach that goal. So learning techniques like self-hypnosis or NLP to help you step into who you’d like to become is really beneficial. There’s a saying “We have to have it in our internal world before we can have it in our external world”. Or another great one is “No Problem Can Be Solved From The Same Level Of Consciousness That Created It” — Albert Einstein. Basically you have to become internally the person you’d have to be to have the thing you’re reaching for.
- Really look at the words you’re saying to yourself and the thoughts you’re thinking and where your attention is. We think and speak our lives into existence and if your focus is on the negative then that’s what you’re bringing into your life. If you’re having trouble changing those thoughts and habits of speaking to yourself negatively then look at learning self hypnosis or other mindset techniques that help reprogram your brain for happiness and success.
How would our lives improve if we changed our definition of success?
Wayne Dyer once said, “Change The Way You Look At Things And The Things You Look At Change.” So if we stop looking through the lens of success only equals “this” and instead go by the dictionary definition “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.”…imagine the possibilities of what would open up for people. The biggest thing that would happen is people would live happier, more fulfilled lives. They would have an improved mindset (internal world) which in turn would also have a positive impact on their external world. They would actually go after their dreams and goals.
What’s the biggest obstacle that stands in the way of our redefined success? And what advice would you offer about overcoming those obstacles?
Fear. The fear of judgment and fear of failure. If you’re experiencing fear of judgment the biggest thing I could remind you of is everyone judges. You’re doing it right now reading this article. It’s a built-in human behavior. If you’re going to be judged anyways, then you might as well be happy or go after that goal, etc.
The fear of failure can also be hard to get past. Do you want to be sitting in the rocking chair going “I’m glad I did” or “I wish I had”? That fear is your brain trying to keep you safe. But it’s actually holding you back from going after what makes you happy. That’s where subconscious reprogramming techniques (because the brain is a biological computer) can really help you put fear aside to go after what you want in life.
Where do you go to look for inspiration and information about how to redefine success?
I’m big into podcasts and reading and also am constantly taking courses. One of my favorite podcasts to listen to for mindset and success is ‘The Jim Fortin Podcast’. I’ve also taken his Transformational Coaching Program. Besides books, podcasts and programs I’ve also got my certification now as a Master NLP Practitioner (Neurolinguistic Programming Practitioner). I am going through for my CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) Practitioner certification as well. Both NLP and CBT have techniques that create new beliefs such as redefining what success looks like for you and going after your goals. Talking things out with my friends and family is also a great way to find inspiration and check-in with myself if what I’m doing is making me happy and what I really want.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He, she or they might just see this if we tag them.
Chris Evans. I have a huge amount of respect for him and all that he’s doing. Besides being an incredibly talented actor he’s using his career to make a difference in the world which is what I’d love to also do with my acting career (eg.my The Lakoda Project). I see him campaigning for Christopher’s Haven (a home for kids and their families while they battle cancer) all the time. He’s never afraid to use his platforms to stand up for what’s right and I love his new project A Starting Point. I think A Starting Point is an incredible platform and despite not living in the USA (which is what the site focuses on for politics right now) I find myself watching a lot of the videos. I find the videos are super informative and really interesting. Chris and his team have done a phenomenal job creating a platform that takes the guesswork out of what’s happening in politics and setting it up so that it’s academic-focused (no likes or comments that could distract). I think it’s very admirable that they’re not doing this to make money either. It’s simply to help people get a better understanding of what’s happening in politics straight from the elected officials. I saw in an Authority Magazine Article that he is one day hoping to expand A Starting Point into other countries. I would love to see it expand to other countries like Canada eventually and would love to sit down with him and chat about his plans for implementing the expansion. How I might be able to assist him to expand into Canada too because I think it’s a much-needed platform.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
They can follow me on Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Tiktok at @realjengardiner and youtube.com/jengardiner and jengardiner.com
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this. We wish you continued success and good health.