Jessica Adams – Blog

Helping ambitious heart-led female founders create more impact and achieve their vision without burnout.

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Redefining success for more flourishing, life-thriving futures

February 26, 20249 min read

Is it time to redefine what success means to you, so you can create a more flourishing, life-thriving future for yourself, others and the world through your leadership and business?

Redefining success for more flourishing, life-thriving futures

Success means the accomplishment of an aim or purpose, it comes from the latin succedere which means to follow, or come close after. 

How you define success shows what is important to you, the things you want to accomplish, and how you create success is the way in which you move towards those goals, visions or thrilling destinations as one of my clients likes to call them. It will show you what you are willing to sacrifice, and what you’re not, in order to achieve what you set out to do.

Since around the time of the Bronze Age when, for better or worse, there was a shift in human consciousness that led to the suppression of the egalitarian, feminine principle and the rise of the warrior-hero and patriarchal capitalism, success has come to mean power over, status and wealth at the expense of other humans, other species, and through control, extraction and destruction of the natural environment. 

Earth. Our home, without which humans cannot survive.

My story, how I've come to view success

Growing up in a creative, artistic family immersed in Nature, wonder and magic until the age of 9, I was abruptly moved to the city, first Brighton then later Oxford, when my parents divorced. With this, I experienced a split in myself, and struggled to make sense of this new world in which intellectual and academic achievement were prized and rewarded. While the wider culture around me of the 1990s was one of individualism and personal achievement. 

I was clever and did a good enough job of trying to fit in, gaining top marks at school and then a first honour’s class degree at University. Because I enjoyed it, because it gained me recognition, and also as a way to prove to the outside world that everything was OK. When it clearly wasn’t – home life was chaotic and wildly unpredictable, and my 20s and 30s were spent in therapy making sense of them and healing from continuous developmental trauma.

While my adult self wouldn’t have wished this on my younger self, one of the many insights I gained from these experiences was a healthy questioning of what it meant to be successful, and a happy disregard for the status quo. 

Besides, many of my friends at school and university had highly successful parents, but they themselves were struggling with addiction, eating disorders and mental health. Two of my friends committed suicide in their early 20s.

So, I set out to not repeat – and to actively heal – generational, family and societal trauma, as well as to define and create success on my own terms. After internships on national newspapers and working for a major London publishing house, I decided the conventional career ladder wasn’t for me, left Bristol and went freelance. 

I was a digital nomad and worked from home before they were even a thing

I also maintained a close connection to Nature, and spent time outdoors and in wild places whenever I could. The more I understood about my personal environmental impact and what was happening locally and globally, the more I tried to reduce the harm I caused. Gradually shifting my food shopping away from super markets towards local and organic, while also growing my own where possible. 

Today, I live in South West England in an Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty  in an eco-house near the woods with my husband and children. I am still complicit in harm, and it pains me to know that, I also know that I can choose to take action (or non-action) in the face of that awareness. Some days it’s easier than others.

Doing what I love for work has always been a huge motivator for me. I’ve always been highly suspect of retirement: why would I want to retire from a life worth living? 

From travel, health and fitness journalist in my 20s, to doula, childbirth educator and pre-/postnatal yoga teacher in my 30s, when I supported over 1000 women in my local community to have better experiences of birth and mothering while raising a young family, to success and leadership coach for female founders in my 40s, I’ve attempted to make my work work for me, my family, others and the world. 

I’m most definitely not perfect, and while I grew up on benefits, there is most definitely some privilege behind me, including the white male privilege that my husband brings with him. 

Overall, my inner compass and definition of success has meant that I am well, happy and healthy for the most part. I was extremely tired with young children at times, who isn’t, but I’ve thankfully never burned out, had any major health problems, and I'm on the other side of an early menopause feeling more creative, energised and on purpose than ever. 

Success hasn’t come at a cost to my health or relationships, in fact it has positively impacted them. For me now, my focus is on how I can contribute more, to more life-thriving, flourishing futures for all, while continuing to maintain a balance that works for me and my family.

I work around 20 hours per week. I spend the mornings doing yoga, going to the woods, painting and reading as these help me feel both vital and alive as well as creative and well-resourced in myself. I don’t want a big global online business, or indeed a big business.

I believe there’s a huge difference between connectivity and connection. While the former can be helpful, I’m in favour of the latter. Connection to myself, to others, to Nature.

Small is beautiful for me, and it means I can go deep with a maximum of 4 one to one clients at a time while running the Wild Founders! un-networking events every six weeks, building community slowly and thoughtfully, adding in or taking out extra in person and online offerings depending on what’s going on in my family life. 

I take a week to a month away from work at Christmas, Easter, Summer and half term holidays, and I am there to meet my kids when they come home from school as well as to have coffee or lunch with my husband during the weekdays. I switch off my phone in the evenings and often at weekends, and am offline completely for days or weeks during ‘holidays’. Holidays are often some of my most creative times and so I see them, like rest and sleep, as integral to success.

Which brings me full circle to my original question: Is it time to redefine what success means to you, so you can create a more flourishing, life-thriving future for yourself, others and the world through your leadership and business?

I believe that, in the face of climate change and the poly-crises, this question is more urgent than ever. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it’s the question of our time. 

Given that success, for the past 4,000 or so years, has been defined by such external markers as rank, status, overt and covert forms of rape, pillage and stealing, over-accumulation of wealth (philanthropy is a side effect of capitalism), and unequal use and overconsumption of resources, including human resources. Hello the multiple -isms that need addressing, burnout culture, disease, pandemics and a global health crisis, with mental ill health predicted to be the number one cause of death by 2030 by the WHO.

If you think of your own life and business as a microcosm of what’s playing out on the world stage and as an actor in the collective global psyche, then what you choose to value, how you choose to live, and the decisions you make in your life and business, do matter. 

You, we, together, shape the direction and future of humanity, all species, and the Earth. You are both wildly insignificant (historically, universally) and wildly significant (your soul gifts and offerings to the world and have the power to create it anew). 

Of course, you already know this on some level, which is why you’re drawn to reading this. 

This question is likely already alive in your mind, in a shape or form that I cannot presume to know or articulate better than you. Intuitively you know it’s what is needed, your body can feel that there’s more to life and business than maintaining the status quo. Your spidey senses are putting their feelers out for a different or multiple different pathways. Just as your imagination and dreams are giving you a glimpse of what’s truly possible.

For you, for your work in the world, for future generations. 

What I’m suggesting, and what I’m practising (again, very much imperfectly), is that wherever possible you invite Nature to show you what’s possible, what success could look like if humans and all species lived in greater reciprocity, as part of thriving ecosystems.

If you were less afraid of death and decay, and more open to them as inherent to the cycle and rhythms of change.

If you could feel that in setting out to accomplish what you want to achieve, success could perhaps be an ongoing, in flux, inner state of contentment and peace that encompasses and welcomes grief, pain, pleasure and joy as an intrinsic part of the whole human experience. 

If you could let Nature guide you, and know yourself not to be separate from, but integral to, the continuous arising of life, possibility, creativity, and new-ancient realities.

What do you think? I’d love to know. Here’s three powerful questions for pause and reflection on what success means to you.

  • What has success meant to you up to this point?

  • What have you gained from this definition of success?

  • How has it impacted you, others, the Earth?

Click HERE to join the Here for More Community for more tips, insights and guidance to help you increase your impact without burnout and make life and business a win: win: win situation. For you, others, and the world!

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