What do ‘success’ and ‘happiness’ mean to you?

If you like the sound of a warm cosy night with a feel-good movie, when it’s freezing cold outside, then look no further than Eddie the Eagle. For all those ‘real men’ out there, it’s a bit of a tear-jerker so make sure the missus can’t see your eyes.

Despite my early skepticism, I enjoyed it and it inspired me to write this blog because no one deserves the label of bravery more than Michael “Eddie” Edwards – an average pro skier who repeatedly risked his life in 1988 and against all odds became the first competitor since 1929 to represent Great Britain in Olympic ski jumping and holds the British Olympic record.

There was certainly an element of stupidity involved but considering the Kiwi Gray brand positioning is all about bravery, I thought this man, who had a vision and was not going to let anything or anyone stand in his way, deserves the recognition. Being brave is a personality trait we can all admire because (as one of the key take-aways from the film) skill can only get you so far. Nobody achieves anything successful by themselves.

Eddie is an inspiration for any business owner or entrepreneur out there because it’s not just the skill you need but also the vision. Eddie definitely had more of the latter! A fantastic quote from Pierre de Coubertin, the father of the Olympic Games summarises the film and Eddie’s conquest:

“The important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win, but to take part; the important thing in Life is not triumph, but the struggle; the essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well. To spread these principles is to build up a strong and more valiant and, above all, more scrupulous and more generous humanity.”

So (spoiler alert!) Eddie didn’t win a medal but he did capture hearts and therefore I believe there are different ways we can define ‘winning’.

Success means something different to different people. One man’s success might be a business that has a turnover of £5m with 20% profit margin. Someone else might want a flourishing business with a flexible lifestyle and an incredible team to work with every day.

You don’t have to be seduced by money and expensive tangible things to be happy. You have the power to choose what makes you happy. Eddie knew this – he had a passion and a dream – his dream may not be the ambitions of every Olympic ski jumper – but he didn’t care. It was his dream and in his eyes (as well as his family, friends and the nation), he was a success.

Sometimes we are too hard on ourselves and sometimes we let bureaucracy, procrastination and envy stand in our way. Why don’t we take more time to look around us and acknowledge and celebrate our successes?

I’ve seen consultants poorly advise businesses and, as a result, seen many entrepreneurs run their pride and joy into the ground. This can sometimes mean 30 years of hard work down the drain because they were advised to rack up loads of debt in a bid to win new clients and that it would be the right decision ‘in the long run’.

I’m not saying this high-risk strategy can’t work for some people but for others I think they need to make sure they know who they are and what they want in life. Maybe they already have what they set out for and are now killing themselves to achieve something they don’t even want or need? It’s sad but true. You decide how high the elevator goes and what floor you should get off at, not the other way around.

Eddie certainly knew what he wanted in life and that was to be in the Olympics but beyond that it was about recognition that he was deemed a success. Some people may view what he did as a failure but, if so, they don’t respect the struggle.

Find enjoyment in everything you do. Set yourself goals and don’t try to imitate anyone, just be a better version of you. Cheers Eddie and thank you for the story.

Since writing this blog, I sent it to Eddie and his management team and he came back to me directly to say: “You put it so well. I hope a lot of people get to read that and recognise what they can do to lead a happy and 'successful ' life.”

What a legend.

If you would like to talk to us about your ambitions and what you can put in place to achieve them, please get in touch, we would love to hear from you.

As seen originally on The Drum