What’s Your Definition of Success?
Once in a while, you see something that stops you in your tracks, and you can't let it go. Today's parable is one of those for me, and I'm also hoping for you. It took me a while to realize that my father had installed the original seeds of change in my mind. Suffice it to say that every time I read this, it makes my heart smile. I have been somewhat mesmerized by it for at least a hundred years.
To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;
To earn the praise of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty;
To find the best in others;
To give of one's self;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition;
To have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation;
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived is to have succeeded.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Leaving the world better than you found it should permeate all you do!
As a farmer, my dad could not afford all the machinery needed to run his farm. Most farmers in the community had the same issue, so they specialized in their purchases and borrowed or loaned equipment to each other. Dad told me many times when you borrow someone's equipment, you return it in better shape than you got it! And there wasn't any debate on that principle. Having left school after the 6th grade, I know he had never seen this parable; he just knew what was right.
Shortly after I found this parable, I printed it and put it on my office wall. It resided there for barely a few months before I had a calligrapher make an ornate copy; I framed it and re-hung it on my wall. It soon became a conversation piece for visitors and employees alike. I told everyone who would listen how important it was to me. This activity carried on for years at multiple locations where I worked. And I believe I am correct in saying it helped my employees understand who I was as their leader. Occasionally, I would find one of my people bringing some of their cohorts into my office to show them the saying. I know it had an impact everywhere I went!
If you notice it and choose to dissect the saying, you will see that it takes a global view of what it covers, leaving the reader to identify the specifics of what it means to them. Then it states, "to know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived - that is to have succeeded." This part of the parable sets the tone for your thinking, making it easier to apply yet more difficult as you think through the ramifications. Now read it slowly and let the words sink into the folds of your brain.
Here's my question for you. What's your definition of success? If you think this exercise is not for you, I say, HA, guess again. We all need something to help keep us focused AND feel good about what we are doing or how we live.
If you have a definition, how does it fit into the parable? If it does, very cool; if it doesn't, rework it until it is in harmony; you will never be disappointed.
I want your heart to smile, just like mine!
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