What is Success? And What Isn’t It?
What is success? Isn’t that subjective? Ask ten people and you’re likely to get at least seven different answers.
One of my nephews is the epitome of what i consider a success; He has a wonderful wife, three gorgeous kids, his house is almost paid off, and, most important of all, he’s home for dinner every night. You can’t ask for much more than that.
What makes him a success? Who knows? But i can tell you that it wasn’t a college degree because he doesn’t have one. But that’s not all he doesn’t have. He doesn’t have any student loans to worry about paying back either.
What is Success? It *Does Not *Mean Making a Lot of Money
No matter what your definition of success is, it is probably not simply the achievement of monetary wealth. At least I hope not. One of the definitions according to Merriam-Webster is:
favorable or desired outcome
When you dissect that meaning, you’ll see that that particular definition of success depends greatly on what the desired outcome is. After all, when you think about it, what good is being filthy rich if you’re not happy? What good is building the biggest company in the world if you can’t enjoy it? Success should mean something similar to most people—a balance of the important things in life—in other words, happiness.
There is a reason why smiles and laughter are universal. Because they indicate a happy state of mind. I know that the world is in a sad state of affairs, but remember, we are the ones who construct the fences and put up the walls. If it were up to nature, there would be no boundaries.
So I ask again—What Is Success?
My wife and I run an animal sanctuary and we have about fifty animals of all types and all colors; in fact, of numerous species. And yet, they all get along. Don’t get me wrong, there is an occasional scuffle, but it’s just that—a scuffle, and it is settled quickly, then things go back to normal.
I’d love to see that many people of differing races and religions live together in a small area and get along as well.
Is the Sanctuary a Success?
Good question. I’d like to think that it is. We’ve had it for twenty-four years and have never lost a single animal to fighting or any other such behavior. We’ve never even had to call a vet due to that. And we have a wide assortment—pigs, dogs, a horse, cats, and a crazy wild boar who weighs about four hundred fifty pounds. You can see him below. This is a picture of him when he was only about two years old; now, he’s five and he has huge tusks.
But My Neighbors Are Wildly Successful
Really? Are you sure about that? What are you using to make that judgment? Is it the same yardstick that they used to measure their own success? Are you sure they asked themselves the age-old question, what is success.
While writing my book, Uneducated, I interviewed many people, who, on the surface, seemed successful. But it was enlightening to see how many of them did not look at it that way, despite having accumulated a significant amount of wealth—which most people use as the yardstick.
When asked why they did not consider themselves as successes, they said, because they hadn’t achieved what they wanted. Most mentioned a stable, happy life. Some wished for even more wealth. And others still desired other non-material achievements. But almost all of them were not where they thought they would be when they began their journey.
Comparisons Are Never Good
I’m going to do something now that I have always told my wife and kids never to do—compare your life situation with someone else’s. I have told them that because even though things may look wonderful on the outside, you never know what’s behind door number three, so to speak. But in this case, I do know, so I’ll do the comparison.
Since many people can only make comparisons by analyzing charts, we’ll use the following table to find out ‘what is success’.
|Person||Original Goal||What achieved by age 35||New Goal|
|Nephew||Nice family, with at least 3 kids||Wonderful family, with 3 kids||At least one more kid|
|Person X||Wealth of $10 million minimum||$5 million||Abandoned goals due to personal cost|
|Person Y||Build own company with personal net worth of at least $15 million||Built own company, net worth exceeds $25 million||Find mate who will stick by me. Repair relationship with kids.|
You might think I selected the most bleak prospects, but I didn’t. Some were far worse. Most were disappointed by the impact of attempting to be their original conceived version of success had on family life. Seven of the ten people I spoke with were either divorced or thinking of it, and none of them (when pressed) felt that they had a good relationship with their kids.
Compare that with my nephew, who comes home every night to his wife (a wonderful woman) and his three kids (magnificent, happy kids). He eats dinner with them seven days a week, builds things in the back yard with them, plays with them, and drives them over twice a week to visit their grandmother. I don’t know if I could make up a story as good as that. I wouldn’t put it in one of my books because people wouldn’t believe me.
By the way, he has two almost-new cars, three iPads, three iPhones, and the family goes out to eat once a week. And their 3,000 square foot house is almost paid for. And he’s not alone. I dedicated my book to my nephew and my youngest son. I’ll be doing a post about him in the near future. The next time someone asks, what is success, don’t be so quick to answer.
At dinner with the kids
Giacomo (Jim) Giammatteo
Website: Giacomo Giammatteo
Fiction Books: (Mystery and Fantasy)
Non-fiction (No Mistakes Publishing) (Publishing, Writing, Grammar, other non-fiction)
Non-fiction (No Mistakes Resumes) (Career related, as in résumés and interviews)
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