Shelley Bridgman | Blog What does Success Look Like To You

What Does Success Mean To You?

There is an inevitable futility about trying to change yourself to become a success—especially if you’ve been trying to do it for as long as you can remember. One personal development course after another.

But what if you already possess all you will ever need? What if you achieve success by accessing the gifts you already have so you can be who you already are? 

It sounds simple, but what holds us back is fear. Fear that we are either not enough or we are too much. One comes from the fear of failure, the other from fear of rejection. Shame fuels both. As a protection from our shame, we wear the mask of sameness, of acceptability, to fit in with our peers.

If you’re not clear whether you lean towards the fear of failure or fear of rejection, I’ll be discussing it in more detail in my next post.

Why does this matter? It matters because unless we embrace our uniqueness, our difference, we will always attract the opposite, I.e. indifference. Until we remove the mask of sameness, the mask of blandness, we might feel safe, but we will not feel fully alive because we are hiding who we are. 

Until the world knows who we are, and what we stand for, it won’t connect with us, and we will fail to make a contribution. Worse still, we won’t make our own unique contribution, and that is the biggest crime of all. 

Why? Because making a contribution, a contribution that benefits others, is the elixir of life and fulfilment. Not money, not material wealth, not being better than anyone else, but making a difference.

Philanthropy is not just giving away money or material wealth. Real philanthropy is sharing our unique gifts. If you haven’t realised it already, our purpose is simply that. It is to share our unique gifts. 

I hope you are embracing your gifts and sharing them. In doing so, living a purposeful, fulfilling life. For those who are not, or perhaps are feeling you’re just doing ok, for those who are honest enough to admit to themselves that they have more to give but are struggling to employ their gifts, it might well be because you don’t want to look inside ‘that painful wound’ in your life. 

The painful wound that will only heal when you stop avoiding it, stop fearing the shame emanating from the fear of failure or rejection. When you do this, you’ll discover that finding the courage to deal with it replaces shame with excitement and frustration with contentment.


It is the place of your greatest learning. The reward will be the unveiling of the gifts you’ve been hiding and the joy of making your unique contribution. The unique contribution only you can make, and that is ‘real philanthropy.’ 

So what does success mean to you?