Kelly Harman
Sales, public relations

Kelly Harman

Vice president of sales at TriNET Systems in Herndon.


Praise from a teenage son

Q: How do you define success?

I spent most of my twenties and thirties feeling very unsuccessful. Like many young people I compared myself to my peers and came up lacking. I didn't have the right career, I didn't have the right education, I didn't make enough money, and I didn't hang out with the "right" crowd.  I was a single mom and didn't consider myself a successful parent. Then I got married and inherited two stepsons. True to form, I didn't feel like a very successful stepmother. But I was so busy working, raising the kids and living my life that I didn't have much time to think about this lack of success.

When I was 36, my son turned 18 (yes, do the math) and I asked him how he'd like to celebrate. He said he wanted the two of us to have a nice dinner somewhere. After ordering our meal, he looked at me and said, "Mom, when we were growing up together, we didn't have a lot of money. But you gave me something priceless, you gave me your unconditional love.  And I don't think I've ever thanked you for it. So I wanted to do that today, on my 18th birthday."

That was the moment I realized just how successful I had become.

My definition of success is irrelevant because success has nothing to do with how we compare ourselves with others. It has everything to do with accomplishing what is important to us individually. I don't expect to ever be a multi-millionaire, own a lot of real estate, or solve even one mystery of science. I'll always feel a little geeky around those impossibly smooth people who are always perfectly accessorized. 

It took a few decades and one teenager to show me it didn't matter -- I was a success because I'd done the things that were important to me. To raise three sons, to be a good friend, have a happy marriage and to know that I've made a positive impact on the people in my life . . . that makes me as successful as I ever hope to be.


By Kelly Harman  |  November 2, 2009; 3:43 PM ET  | Category:  Defining success Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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