Pick the one area of your life that you want to change right now- What does that area of your life look like right now? What do you want that area of your life to look like? To move towards your ideal, what do you need to stop doing? What do you need to do differently? What can you do today? Start with just this one area, and then move on to others as you start making progress.
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 Tameeka Leon.
Tameeka Leon is a Confidence and Goal Success Coach, founder of the Coffee.Yoga.Life blog, and the Mindful Success Membership. She helps high-achieving women redefine what success means to them and create a realistic action plan to being more fulfilled in life and work. Her methodology is unique in that it is a combination of the “hit it hard, knock it out of the park” style of goal-setting mixed with “I’m listening to my feminine energy and giving my body what it needs” plus a touch (or slightly more) of the Law of Attraction.
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?
Absolutely, I can definitely think of two experiences that have been turning points for me and have directly contributed to who I am today.
The first experience was when I read How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. This was the first time that I really understood that I had the power to change, and better control, my interactions with people. Prior to reading this book, I was angry. A lot. I was constantly arguing with people who didn’t understand my point of view or who I disagreed with. I was quick to assume that people were purposely “attacking” me or trying to make me look stupid. My response was to attack first so I wouldn’t be seen as weak or incompetent. Needless to say it wasn’t winning me any favors or friends with people who would help me elevate my thinking or my life. After reading this book, I started to change how I thought about people’s actions and reactions, and how I responded to those people. Because I changed how I thought about them, I was able to let go of always feeling attacked and the need to attack first. This decrease in stress made life so much happier, and led to more opportunities, more happiness at home, and a stronger desire to keep improving myself.
The second experience was actually the catalyst for me launching my blog, and then eventually to become a Confidence and Goal Success Coach. I had been known as the resident expert at work for several years, and then our company was acquired. At first, it was amazing. There were so many new opportunities, and I was finally able to get a promotion (I actually received 2 promotions in the first 18 months of us being acquired). I was ecstatic, so excited for all the new opportunities. And then everything changed. We were restructured and I was thrown into a new role where I had no experience, nor where I’d ever had any interest. And though it was seen as another promotion, I realized after a few months that I was absolutely miserable. It took another few months of me feeling worse and worse every day before I realized that something was really wrong, it wasn’t just me being uncomfortable in my new role (though that was a major part of it as well). That was when I finally asked myself what I wanted with my career. Believe it or not, until that point I had never considered whether or not I actually wanted the career that I was in. I was just following the defined career path. I was making more money than my closest friends and a lot of my family, and everyone seemed excited for my success, so I figured it had to be the right thing. But it wasn’t, at least not for me. Once I asked myself the question, and starting writing in my journal, it just kind of spilled out of me. I wanted to help other women who were going through the same feelings, I wanted to help them define what success means to them and help them create a plan to get there. That was my definition of success. Helping other women see the greatness within themselves and share it with the world. That realization led me to start the Coffee.Yoga.Life blog, and then about 2 years later I decided to become a coach.
We all have myths and misconceptions about success. What are some myths or misconceptions that you used to believe?
There are so many misconceptions that I used to believe about what it meant to be successful. First and foremost, I used to believe that it was all about how much money you made. That you couldn’t be considered successful unless you made at least 50,000 dollars /year. Now I can easily laugh at that idea, but as a kid that seemed like the magic number. At that time in the mid-90’s it would definitely have been a much better salary than it is considered today, especially for a woman of color.
I’d say the funniest misconceptions that I had were around the type of job you had. There was a time when I thought having to attend meetings several times a week and having your job give you a cellphone and laptop meant that you were considered important and on your way up the corporate ladder. What I thought was above and beyond, was managing a team and being seen as a leader at work. I honestly thought reaching the level of Director or higher was the ultimate success. In essence, my belief was that the busier you were, the money you made, and the title that you had would determine your success.
How has your definition of success changed?
Once I achieved each of the things that I thought would make me successful, and therefore happy, I quickly realized that I was actually more miserable. After a few months of struggling with this realization, I finally took a step back and really had to ask myself why I wasn’t happy when everyone else was so excited for my achievements. That simple question is what opened my eyes to the possibility that each person gets to decide what success means to them. That is when I decided that success no longer meant climbing the corporate ladder and being too busy to enjoy life. To me success is freedom. Time freedom, to use my time and energy in the way that I decide, not what someone else tells me I must do, or have my vacation time be bound by PTO. Location freedom to see the world, spend time with family, and work wherever I want for however long I want. And financial freedom to enjoy my time and location freedom, and to build a legacy of philanthropy.
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 truly believe that as a society we need to reinforce everyone’s responsibility to and for themselves. So many people believe, and are taught from a young age, that our success is determined by outside factors and others’ opinions. Those things are outside of our circle of control so it becomes a perpetual race to a non-existent finish line.
As a society, we need to take responsibility for our happiness. We need to dig deep and understand what we truly want for our lives. We need to take ownership of where we’re at in life AND the path to get us to where we want to be.
What do you see as the unexpected positives in the pandemic? We would love to hear a few of your stories or examples.
I struggle with this a bit because so many people lost their lives, so many people lost loved ones, so many people lost their livelihoods. And that cannot be overlooked, my heart hurts for the people who lost themselves. But in that, I also recognize that so many people gained time, gained clarity, gained a chance to reflect and refocus, and were able to find themselves again.
Before the pandemic, I was exhausted but still pushing. I had a commute that was about 2–3 hours a day Monday through Friday (depending on traffic), in a role that was still fairly new to me. Plus, I was working on my blog and trying to build an e-commerce store in my free time. While also trying to squeeze in time for hobbies occasionally so that I didn’t completely lose my mind. I was getting about 4 hours of sleep every night. When the pandemic hit, and we were instructed to work from home (thankfully I could perform 100% of my job virtually), I was able to sleep in every morning. I had time to do yoga in the mornings, and also after really stressful conference calls. I no longer woke up exhausted every morning, just to drive over an hour to deal with toxic people face-to-face, and day after day. The amount of stress that I no longer felt was incredible, and almost immediate. After a couple of weeks, I noticed that I was able to focus more on the things that mattered to me because I wasn’t exhausted all the time. I got to spend more quality time with my husband. We were able to be fully present with each other more than we had before. We already had a great relationship, getting more quality time has just made it that much better.
We’re all looking for answers about how to be successful now. Could you please share “5 Ways To Redefine Success Now?” (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Be honest with yourself about what you really want- Stop and ask yourself what you want to do in your life. Grab a journal and a pen and just start writing. Write what you are happy about in your life, what you want to change, who you want to be known as, what you want to do, who you want to work with, where you want to live, how you want to spend your free time, etc. Just keep writing until you’ve gotten everything out. This is where I was stuck. I never thought about what I wanted, I was just following the prescribed career path, even though I didn’t prescribe it. Defining what I wanted gave me the power to define my own path.
- Start with your values- Starting with your values keeps you aligned with who you are. You are much more likely to feel happy and successful if you stay aligned with your values. For me, this was eye-opening. I was chasing money and status, but neither of those actually have much meaning for me. Freedom, family, and personal growth are at the top of my values list. Needless to say, the path I was on was not in alignment with my values and was the reason for my misery. My outlook changed almost as soon as I started focusing on my values.
- Pick the one area of your life that you want to change right now- What does that area of your life look like right now? What do you want that area of your life to look like? To move towards your ideal, what do you need to stop doing? What do you need to do differently? What can you do today? Start with just this one area, and then move on to others as you start making progress.
- Do a future self-guided meditation or visualization- You can find these easily on YouTube. Chances are that in this meditation you will see things that you didn’t realize you wanted but that resonate with you. Or it could reinforce a thought that keeps coming up for you but you’ve been ignoring. I did this after reading Tara Mohr’s Playing Big and it was so eye-opening. It reinforced a thought that I’d had so many times before (for years actually) but kept thinking that I wasn’t ready to do it.
- Consider what you want your legacy to be- What do you want to be known for? If you were able to become well known for that thing, would you consider yourself to be successful? For example, I am on a mission to help 100,000 women redefine success for themselves and create their first 90-day goal action plan. If I achieve this goal, would I consider myself successful? Absolutely! Does this align with leaving a legacy of empowering others to reaching their greatest potential? Absolutely!
How would our lives improve if we changed our definition of success?
When you define success for yourself, you get to set your own standards. You get to decide how success looks in your life. When you define success for yourself, your success is no longer at the mercy of someone’s opinions or remaining in someone good graces. You also get to decide if and when you need to make a change to your definition of success. So many things change in our lives at the most random times, in the craziest ways, and for the most random reasons. Defining success for yourself means that you hold the power to decide when you have achieved success or if you need to change your path. It’s your life, don’t give away your power to others.
What’s the biggest obstacle that stands in the way of our redefined success? And what advice would you offer about overcoming those obstacles?
I think the biggest obstacle that stands in the way of our redefined success is lack of support and understanding from our closest family and friends. In most cases, we are surrounded by the same people who gave us our previous definition of success, e.g., our friends, family, co-workers, and our community. It is very difficult to change how you respond to familial and societal expectations, if those expectations didn’t change when you did. My best advice when taking the step to redefine what success means to you is to find a support group. Find a group of people who believe that you are allowed to decide your own journey, that you are allowed to chase dreams that society does not consider successful, and that you are allowed to live life on your own terms. Find people who understand and support your freedom to be who you are. Luckily, we live in the digital age meaning support can come from anywhere in the world. And trust me, it’s out there.
Where do you go to look for inspiration and information about how to redefine success?
I am a huge personal development junkie, and have been for many years. Over the years, I have come across several books that have helped me shift how I think about success in life and in business. Some of those books are: How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie (peace of mind over being right), Presence by Amy Cuddy (standing up and owning your space, owning your time), Do Less by Kate Northrup (taking time to pause and listen to your needs), and Playing Big by Tara Mohr (listening to your inner wisdom and taking intentional action to reach your goals). When I feel the need, I do go back and re-read some of these books. I also love Pinterest and have created a board full of inspiration and motivation that I can visit anytime, which also puts more inspirational and motivational posts in my Pinterest feed. And awesome reminders of how I have redefined success are my vision boards. My vision boards are wonderful reminders of what I have defined as success for me, and they are placed in my office so that I see them for several hours almost every day.
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.
Amy Porterfield. I first heard Amy on Pat Flynn’s podcast, which led me to her podcast, Online Marketing Made Easy. This was in the very beginning stages of me having an idea that I maybe wanted to start something. Nothing was really set in stone yet, but the thoughts were there. It was from listening to Amy’s podcast that I actually started to believe that I could do it. And because she gave so much great content, and downloadable worksheets, I was actually starting to do it. Of course, I had days where I was exhausted (this was during the time of my 2–3 hour weekday commute) and I would stop listening to podcasts for a few days. But when I was ready to jump back in, it was always Amy that I turned to. When I decided that I was ready to make my first real investment and step into ownership as an entrepreneur, it was through Amy. And it was also through one of Amy’s groups that I met and have built close relationships with other women business owners. If given the opportunity, I would absolutely love to thank Amy for everything she has created to help business owners.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this. We wish you continued success and good health.