My first lesson in French consisted of learning two key concepts in grammar which are etre, which is ‘to be’ such as ‘I am’ and ‘you are’ and the verb avoir which is ‘to have’, as in ‘I have’ ‘you have’ etc. I’ve always thought how they are such philosophical concepts and apparently they are at the centre of a long standing philosophical debate on the comparisons and contrasts of having and being.
Think about those people whose idea of success is ‘to have’, that is they equate success with the acquisition of things; income, cars, homes, status. Then consider those who consider success to be the change in who they are as people.

It’s interesting isn’t it, the concept of having something and the concept of being something and I can thoroughly relate it to my own journey which began with having things that I had never had before which could only be purchased with money. My focus was on money and what it could buy me and how those purchases would change my self-perception. My motivation was to measure my success by what I could buy and how I would appear to others around me. I was impressing, myself, my family, friends and enemies: showing that by acquiring the trappings of success that I was a success, a better, more worthy person than my previous status had demonstrated.

However, as time went by I realised that more money, houses, investments actually didn’t make me happier. I learned that no amount of physical trappings could do that, no amount of money can make up for any feelings of inadequacy. More money and status is a cure for personal feelings of inadequacy to the extent that a Band-Aid will cure a broken heart. On the outside the Band-Aid seems to be a cure but that cure is purely fascia, an external cure for an internal problem. It doesn’t work. No amount of money or success can bring us real success. Real success is personal growth from the inside and it is not necessarily based on personal change, more the acceptance of who we are. Physical fitness, good health, good relationships, physical strength and personal wealth are not the cure for our feelings of inadequacy; they are the result of us curing our inadequacies.
The more we focus on ‘being’ rather than ‘having’ the happier we will be. But more than that, we will also be more able to acquire the trappings of success if we desire to have them. Take the Band-Aid analogy once again; people who suffer from depression are given two kinds of cures: one is a drug which will deaden their feelings of pain and the other is counselling which seeks to examine why the pain has occurred. Drugs are the Band-Aid, the ‘have’ and counselling is the ‘to be’, counselling, the examination of ones thoughts and feelings, questioning what we believe in order to reveal those beliefs that are causing our pain and in so doing, gaining the power and control necessary to remove them.
The point is that our search for a better life, personal growth, the removal of pain etc., must come from within through being. We must first ‘be’ a better person before we can truly ‘have’ the trappings of a ‘better’ more successful person. The problem is that it is easier to wear success than to be a success. We’ve all seen examples of those people who wear the trappings of success, but underneath their life is a mess; failing relationships, climbing debt, inadequate task completion and a drug habit to help them hide from the pain they feel inside. This is obviously not real success, obvious at least to the outsider, but if we’re to avoid the same trap we must examine and counsel ourselves, which is to study our motivations and actions constantly to re-align ourselves with our goals of personal development; to recognise whether we are being or having.

For me as an instructor and Black Belt Leader to our students it means that I am under a responsibility to be a bigger more dedicated student than any of my own students. It is not enough to have the trappings of a leader on the outside, I must be the leader from the inside. Does that mean I must have all the answers? Of course not, no one knows all the answers, but what it does mean is that I must be still seeking them and living by those answers that I have discovered so far. It means that I must not just appear to be a student, I must be student at the deepest level. If not my teaching and interaction with my students will show that I am not truly who I profess to be. Sure I can con some of them into believing that I am what I purport to be, but intuitively they will see that what I say I am, is not who I am. If I am not completely the message by living it and pursuing it, heart, mind, body & spirit my failings will show through my actions my work ethic, my appearance. Without we totally believe in what we do, we cannot maintain the appearance that we do for very long. Having the appearance of being a leader cannot be maintained, only the being of a leader can be maintained because it is the truth.

Success therefore is something that we become internally which shows on the outside, not something we achieve externally that covers an emptiness on the inside. Success is the continuous pursuit of progress, of becoming a leader of oneself, changing oneself in order to become a person who is better than the person who started the journey. The final question therefore is; are you having a success or are you being the success?