Embrace change to pursue success that fulfills you

Marques Colston catching a pass against the Cincinnati Bengals

Look around you — there are different version of success in every direction. Everyone defines it differently for themselves — some are successful because they are living in their passion. Others are successful because they’ve accumulated a certain level of wealth. And while there is no standard definition of success and what it looks like, we can all agree that certain pressures and societal factors mold our vision of it.

Many of us want to define success on our own terms. It may sound like a simple idea. But it’s the execution of it that gets much more difficult. As much as each of us wants to move in that direction, there will always be external forces that make the path to that vision blurry. When the vision gets blurry, sometimes it feels more comfortable to travel the known paths, the ones that have visibility and certainty.

But at what cost? The path may not be built for you. And if it doesn’t fit today, it will likely diverge further as time goes on. Ultimately, the path most traveled will get you to a known destination — but if its not a destination that brings you peace and fulfillment in the end, what’s the point?

What does success look and feel like – to you?

After retiring from the NFL in 2015, these questions were front and center in my life. I had just decided to retire from a profession that was my life’s dream. A singular focus that aligned most of my energy had paid off. I’d been fortunate enough to play at a high level for a decade — I broke team records and won a lot of games including a Superbowl. Most would look at my football career as a universal success. But when it was time to turn the page, it was tough to realize the singular focus that led to success in the NFL was no longer viable. I had to embark on a new journey. And the journey started with defining a new vision of success to pursue.

Many people made assumptions about what I should do next. According to the default path people assigned me, as a former NFL player the next phase was to get involved with the business of football, either as a broadcaster or coach. At every turn, people were surprised I had no interest in going into football media because I was “well-spoken” and had the “look.” But I had no interest in either one of those roles. Make no mistake, I loved competing at the highest level on the field. But I also understood this very important concept:

Playing in the NFL was a job that I did very well. It defined a lot of things about me — talent, ability, will, etc. But the job didn’t define the man.

My passion and purpose have always been to support others. Through mentorship, philanthropy, or thought partnership, I have always been fulfilled when helping others achieve their vision for success. And while a career in the broadcast booth or sports media world would have been a natural and comfortable move that provided financial capital and influence, it wouldn’t have checked the most important box — purpose and fulfillment. That realization forced me to dig beneath the surface to redefine and reposition the qualities and motivations that would guide me into this new season of life.

Most only saw value in the physical attributes that made the player– speed, agility, athleticism, etc. But a deeper internal dive uncovered the mindset and processes that positioned the man to achieve improbable (and statistically almost impossible) success in the NFL. The internal drivers to persevere through adversity, the processes to commit to self-improvement and skill development, the mindset to embrace change and feedback — were all the foundation of the success I’d built in my previous career. They were the internal skills and abilities that allowed the physical attributes to shine. Why couldn’t I reuse them as the foundation to build and display new skills?

Change might be necessary to work towards a vision of success that fulfills you. Change can be difficult. It can be challenging. But change is also a precursor to growth. And growth is the precursor to advancement. And embracing change and the new uncertainty that comes with it empowers you to create a new standard of success.

As I moved into the next season of life after the NFL, this inward approach helped me embrace the uncertainty in front of me. These three techniques have empowered me to create an internal measure of success that fulfills me, independent of others’ thoughts and opinions:

Be the optimal version of yourself- not someone else’s

There is always room to leverage others as inspiration. But don’t confuse inspiration with replication.

Believe that you bring unique value. It may be your life experience, your work experience, or your intuition. Whatever it is, embrace it with confidence. Once you own your value, continue finding ways to improve and develop to create the optimal version of yourself.

There is always room to leverage others as inspiration. But don’t confuse inspiration with replication.

Believe that you bring unique value. It may be your life experience, your work experience, or your intuition. Whatever it is, embrace it with confidence. Once you own your value, continue finding ways to improve and develop to create the optimal version of yourself.

Build a routine and commit to it

Your growth should not be one-dimensional. Physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional health and well-being are just as important to your success as technical skill and ability.

Build a daily routine that creates dedicated time for yourself to develop in multiple areas of your life. It may not be easy, but committing yourself to well-rounded growth will not only help you achieve the success you are looking for. It will also help you with the endurance and stamina to sustain it.

Lead with intention

It can be easy to find yourself being pulled in separate directions, trying to serve the needs of others. The best way to provide the most value to others is to get the most out of yourself.

Be intentional with your time and energy. They are two of the most important resources you have, and they are limited. Find ways to be intentional about creating value for yourself, even when creating value for others. Challenge yourself to extract personal value in every interaction and task to further your growth and development. There can be value in even the smallest and mindless tasks, you just have to find it intentionally.

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Each issue is fueled by Marques’s personal and professional experiences, through success and setbacks.

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