TED Conversations

Singer Songwriter & Vocal Coach, Lizanne Hennessey - Voice Coach


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What is success to you?

When you were asked as a kid, what you wanted to be when you grew up, were you able to give a straight answer? Are you now that thing you wanted to be hen you were 8, or 11, or 21?

Do you agree that it is 'common sense' to choose a study that will guarantee you a job? Why? Because society dictates that we need to be "successful". I believe that success we are all trying to reach simply does not exist.

Who's to say that what you study is what you're going to be? What if your deepest desire is to be a musician? You study and you make the hours and you practice ad you work your ass off to be good at what you want to be good at, but what if you never reach that point of success you think you have to achieve? Does that mean you should give up?

Every set-back we experience in trying to reach that imaginary level of success, makes us feel annoyed, irritated, depressed, frustrated, and in some cases even suicidal. Why?

It is in our nature to always want more. Physically, spiritually, financially, materialistically… We are pushing ourselves to the extreme and don't seem to appreciate what we have achieved along the way, since the goal to reach that success is the only thing that matters.

So, Why are we so fundamentally unsatisfied?
We are trying to reach a goal that we did not set ourselves - it is set by society, by the media, by commercialism. We compare ourselves to each other, which is also a fundamentally human trait.

What makes us who we are, and how do we determine a level of success that is valuable to us as individuals?


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  • Apr 21 2013: a person can be successful at what he/she does but in the same time not successful in his/her relationships..etc etc. I think being balanced in everything is the ultimate success
    • Apr 22 2013: Hi Yaqoub,
      I agree 100%. Being successful doesn't mean being successful in everything you do - I think we'd have to be super-human in order to achieve that. Achieving that balance is success in itself.
      • Apr 23 2013: Hi Lizanne,
        You are absolutely correct, we have to be super-human. In my opinion, by the end of the day when we place our heads in our pillows we should have a clear mind. This is the feeling of success. Be serious about your job, family, friendships,relations and yourself but balance the seriousness.
        • Apr 23 2013: I just had to laugh when I read "when we place our heads in our pillows we should have a clear mind". I fear I haven't had a clear mind since I was 6! So many ideas, so many thoughts, so many unrealistic goals to note down... I'm the type of person who keeps notebooks under my pillow so I can write down ideas or scrawl an inspiration from a dream in the middle of the night!

          Seriously, I do completely understand and agree with you though, that being serious about those things means taking those things seriously, which comes down to respect for one another, beginning with respect for yourself!

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