Perhaps we should stop calling it the American Dream and start calling it "the responsibility of success"...
It's funny what memories stick with you from childhood.
I'll never forget the time I heard my uncle say, "they roll up the sidewalks around here at 6pm". I literally thought that meant they rolled up the sidewalks. My imagination ran wild.
I also remember hearing someone say "the American dream is a white picket fence" and wondering if, perhaps, I wasn't actually American. I had literally never seen a picket fence in my dreams.
Now that I'm older, I no longer wonder about what the "American dream" really is. For me, the "dream" is being surrounded by people you love, doing something you love and being able to chart your own course.
And this is something that - when you get out of your own way - you realize you can have. Anyone can have it. Because our destiny is in our hands.
Success is simply a measure determined by you. For some, success is having a healthy and happy family. For others, it's having a certain number of employees. Or a certain dollar amount in the bank. Or a certain amount of fame. But the point remains the same - success is something that YOU should determine. NOT someone else.
But with that success comes a measure of responsibility. Allow me to elaborate.
When I first started The Silent Partner Marketing, I took the risk that I would fail. That I wouldn't be able to make my mortgage payment. That I'd have to - God forbid - eat my humble pie and move back in with family if I failed.
The business grew. And my level of success grew - personally. I married the woman of my dreams. And so the responsibility of success became making sure to provide for my growing family. Having a daughter changed the level of responsibility that success heaped on me. Now I needed to provide for my family financially AND emotionally. Now's where we start diving into the measure of success. I needed the flexibility to make sure I'd spend time with my family and make all of our payments. I still have much work to do on the time factor - but don't we all?
As the level of success of the business grew, it meant hiring more and more employees. And I began to realize that now I had to provide for my family and THEIR families as well. Success became a measure of ensuring their financial stability as well. For some business owners or entrepreneurs, it stops here. But for the truly successful, it needs to be taken a step further.
The true responsibility of success means providing for your team's emotional well being. Have you created an environment where they feel appreciated and nurtured? Are you creating a company culture in which people understand their value and see the opportunity to grow in the organization? Do you have a TEAM...or are you creating a family?
With that, I propose to you that the American Dream doesn't exist. YOUR dream does. Only YOU can determine what success is...and only you can ensure that you fulfill the responsibility that your continued success brings.
Kyle Reyes is President and CEO of The Silent Partner Marketing. He's also an acclaimed Keynote Speaker on entrepreneurship, leadership, marketing and social media. You can find him on Facebook and Twitter.