Redefining Success

Dr. Lakeya Cherry
3 min readDec 16, 2022

Authenticity, Courage, and Tenacity

Photo by Austin Chan on Unsplash

Most of us have been raised to work hard, go to school, and get an education.

We’re told that if we want to be successful, these are the things that we have to do.

What we don’t talk about is the fact that we have the ability to define what success looks like for us.

According to our own standards…

Strive for the American dream is what they say? But whose dream is it and is it accessible for all?

Get married. Have children. Become a boss. Own a home.

These are just a few of the dreams many of us aspire to because in some cases we actually want it and in other cases, we’re told these are the necessary ingredients for success.

The success equation.

But are you less successful without them? What if you obtain it but lose it? Less successful?

I don’t think so.

The reality is, none of what we’ve been taught guarantees success or happiness.

We determine our success and happiness.

Over the last two and a half years, we’ve seen over 4 million Americans across the country join the Great Resignation.

While many left for a variety of reasons, many who left have learned to redefine what success looks like.

I am one of those people.

Since childhood, I’ve been told that by nature of my race and gender, I would have to work ten times harder than most if I wanted to be successful.

I was also told that if I wanted a better life for myself, college was a must.

I was told that I should strive for leadership roles and opportunities.

What I wasn’t told was that there would be a glass ceiling, a concrete wall, and that I would be the first, the few, and the only in some cases …many cases…

That my hard work does not equal success does not equal health does not equal happiness …or freedom.

and that no matter how high I climbed, how much money I made, or any of the boxes I checked, success is relative.

I needed to redefine success for me by me to be successful.

While I am not disputing the reason or the rationale behind these directives or their impact on my current state of being, I have learned intimately the role self-determination and grit plays in our lives and believe the acts of inner work and self reflection can lead us to our true north…

To understanding what we want and seek from life i.e. what truly makes us happy.

I have learned that to truly be successful (according to my standards of course) I must ACT i.e. I must be my authentic self, courageous, and tenacious.

….and I believe these ideas can be applied to most people.

Regardless of who you are or where you come from, if you make a conscious effort to ACT then you will be the driver in your ride to success.

And the bonus is that success will be defined by you and on your terms.

We spend one third of our lives at work chasing this illusive goal. Why not work with intention?

Why not choose to pursue spaces that allow us to be successful?

I started 2022 stating that my word of the year was freedom. As we prepare to end the year, I stand adamant in my belief that true success is freedom, freedom to be.

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Dr. Lakeya Cherry

CEO | Partner, Evolution| Executive Coach| Thought Leader