What Success Isn’t 

Before defining what real success is, it is important to discover what success is not.  The world and our troubled

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society have had a lot to do with most people’s current definition of success.  If you were to take a field trip to your local mall and stand at one of the entrances, you would get a fair cross section of society.  If you asked each person who walked by you to define success in their life, you would get many different answers.  The answers would be just as varied as the people who pass by.  I would be willing to bet, though, that the vast majority of these answers would revolve around the following themes: power, prestige, fame and the big ones, money and possessions. 

None of these things bring success in one’s life.  The first three have nothing to do with real success and probably do a lot more to destroy someone, rather than build them up into who they need to become in order to achieve this elusive animal called success.  The other two, money and possessions, definitely play a part in the overall picture of one’s success, but it is just a part.   

Let’s settle this here and now!  Yes, it is okay and even good to have money and possessions in your life.  For most people though, it is the other way around, the money and things have them. 

Let’s look at the typical day for the average person and see where we, as a society, have lost focus on real success. 

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We will use a guy I know.  His name is Joe Average.  He gets up around 6:30 am with the alarm going off and he probably hits the snooze bar several times; it’s about 7:00 am when he finally gets up.  He then realizes that he probably shouldn’t have stayed up so late last night.  He hurries out of the house to start his morning commute to his job that he dislikes or maybe even hates.  He knows he should be doing something else with his life, but isn’t sure what.  He gets to work 5 minutes late and gets right into “making things happen.”  He is unfocussed and spends ten to twelve hours doing his work.  He gets home around 7:00 pm, eats dinner, watches TV, or maybe even meets some friends at the local bar.  He then gets to bed late again and starts the whole cycle all over.  He does this because he feels he will be “successful” someday. 

In the meantime, he has neglected the important things in life.  He doesn’t take care of his health, doesn’t do much exercise and probably doesn’t eat very well, therefore he lacks energy to have any real passion for living, working and yes, playing.  His relationships are superficial, at best.  Maybe he is “friends” with some people at work and they go to the bar several nights a week or they play on the company softball team, but the prospect of true friendship just doesn’t occur to him.  When he does get together with these people it is mostly an attempt to impress each other and to show the others how “together” his life is.   

His home life is spent squabbling over trivial things. His home, where he should have a refuge from the world, has just become an extension of the rest of everything else.  If there are kids, there is no real relationship being formed.  They all might plop themselves in front of the TV several nights a week but there is no REAL interaction.  As far as plans for the future and accomplishing something greater, well, those dreams died out a long time ago.  Rather than living, our friend Joe has settled into a pattern of just existing. 

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There are so many stories like Mr. Average.  The details are different, but the general outcomes are the same.  Take Jane Average for example, the other half of the Average family.  She does different things, has a different job and different “friends” but the outcome is the same; a feeling of despair and worry about where life is leading.  How do I know this?  That’s where I was for most of my life.  Fortunately, I discovered that things could be different, much different, and I have never been so fulfilled in my life.  The first move in this direction will occur when you realize that the problem with worldly success is that we were all not created to be rich, powerful and famous.  Success is not at some point in the future.  It is here and now.  The good news is that you can stop chasing the gold at the end of the rainbow; it isn’t there.  We were all created for a different role and a different experience.  This is a good thing. In order to move forward, we must first figure out what success is.  Start soon though because time is ticking and there are no do-overs. 

God Bless

Michael at R2W

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