Success! What an overused, misunderstood word!
Many motivational speakers speak about what produces success. They promote varied ideas to gain it, such as writing goals, developing self-confidence, setting minds on objectives, etc. But they don’t tell what success is!
Yes, writing goals is helpful — and keeping them in front of us. Rewriting them, adjusting them, is part of that. Today, writing goals is especially helpful because of countless distractions around us, especially the non-factual.
Yet, at least one successful person never wrote down goals. Rush Limbaugh said he’s never done that—and none can claim he’s not successful in his arena, no matter our political persuasion. So, writing goals isn’t a requisite.
Self-confidence and self-esteem
Developing better self-confidence is helpful. But, the current practice of giving unwarranted ‘rewards’ for just competing causes confusion, not confidence. Plus, the culture’s habit of name-calling when people stand up for something or someone damages confidence. Yet, thinking we need to tell ourselves how smart or talented we are or how we can do something better than another isn’t the answer, either. We know within ourselves if we are smart or talented, and to compare ourselves to others is pointless.
Nothing builds self-esteem more than striving for, and doing, good — and doing what is right, despite risks. Seeking goodness, utilizing our talents in the best ways, helping others, all help us see our true worth, which develops our confidence and happiness! It may seem odd initially, but self-esteem increases humility which is attractive! Why else seek humility?
St Augustine said, “It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels.” St Augustine was a learned man, a theologian, a philosopher, an influential man in his era and today. Could he be right?
Patience and Goals
Now, setting our minds on our ultimate objectives is important. Yet, if the goal is a long-range goal, (the best ones are!), we need the patience to live with the delay, not get discouraged and stay focused. Why else seek patience?
Psychologists report that patience is power, born of understanding! So, we grow in internal strength and endurance, making life easier, and making our bodies healthier!
Of course, for ‘believers,’ prayer is powerful for goal assistance, though we don’t always see the effect. One thing, for sure: prayer never hurts!
Our own kind of success
But striving for/gaining success is never good when it’s a result of ‘walking on others.’ If we leave a trail behind us of people hurting because of our activities/words, then that’s fake success. It cannot produce goodness but results in a rotten tree that produces rotten fruit. We may obtain more money, more power, more prestige. But in truth, we’ll be a failure. Looking inside ourselves, if we’re honest, we cannot feel good about obtaining gain through others’ losses. Though we may try to puff ourselves up, ignore our faults, and forget others’ pain, we will ultimately find misery from guilt.
If we experienced harm through someone rising in rank due to unethical practices or injustice, we cannot let ourselves sink to the same level. We can find our own success, no matter where we are, what our status is, how much we make.
In addition, we don’t find success via mandated to-do lists. Without freedom of using our ingenuity, we may accomplish tasks, but not find success in them. Likewise, if we mandate others, that doesn’t create success for us or them.
I don’t claim to have all the answers. I’m no expert and I’ve not made millions or even hundreds giving advice on success. I’ve only advised teams, in several companies, and I was ‘in the trenches with them,’ working for their successes as well as mine. Most of this is based on a combination of common sense, experience as a manager and an underlying, referring to wise leaders, and studying ‘success.’
So, what is ‘success?’
‘To each, his own!’ We can be successful in challenging conversations. We can find success in difficult projects. We can appreciate success in our hobbies.
There are different degrees, different types, of success. We’re only failures if we quit trying. The famous Zig Ziglar said, “Failure is an event, not a person.” So, when we persist, we’re being successful in advancing toward our goals!
So, perhaps ‘success’ is simply found in setting our minds on goals, being patient, and doing good in helping others in the meantime!
Consider a poor, old woman who begged for food and money. She said, “When you don’t have anything, then you have everything.” Sound like success? Hint: She didn’t beg for herself.
Actions speak for themselves
Mother Teresa served others/ loved everyone through her words and actions. She served the lowly, the dying, the dirty, never thinking about herself. In her humble work in an obscure location, was she successful?
She received the Nobel Peace Prize for spreading love, and 120 other awards/ honors, including the highest U.S. civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. But she would not claim success, only continual efforts.
Mother Teresa made powerful statements, relevant here:
If you’re kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you do good today, people forget it tomorrow. Do good anyway.
If you do your best, it will never be enough. Do your best anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, some will be jealous. Be happy anyway.
If you’re successful, you’ll win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.
There’s not much to be said after that!
Monica Walker is a wife of 50 yrs, mother of 5, grandmother of 23.
She was a Region Manager at Augustine Institute, a Manager & Mortgage Underwriter at Bank of America, and the Owner of Rushmore Resources.
She is a Published freelance author — various city publications, weekly & monthly church publications, an Author — three books ready to publish, and a Poet/ Songwriter–ninety songs ready to submit.
She was also listed as an “Outstanding Young Woman of America,” and was a Guest on the televised Business Awakenings show. Monica lives in the United States.