What does success look like to me?
As a mother, one of my goals was to raise my son to be a person of integrity and faith. So, seeing him drop to his knees at the age of 3 ½ and throw his arms in the air and pray for his friend’s mom when he heard she was sick, and then jump up to go play, secure in knowing that his prayer was not only heard, but being answered, to me that was success. Watching him grow up into a teenager and still having that kind of faith was a continual celebration of success in my heart.
When I first adopted the 3 orphaned kittens, they had been without their mother for a few days and in pretty rough shape. Little Mo was so weak, she wouldn’t even try the bottle, and I knew she would die soon if she didn’t eat. So, I held her to keep her warm and used my finger to gently massage and soothe her, like her mother would with her tongue. And every time she opened her mouth, I placed a drop of formula in with an eye dropper. By the end of the second day, she was taking the formula a few drops at a time. On the third day she finally tried the bottle, and from then on, she began to grow and thrive. That was also success to me.
When I published my first book and I heard my mom and dad say, “We are proud of you and the woman you have become. You are a wonderful writer, full of beautiful stories to tell”, I felt like the most successful person on the planet!
And yet, not one single penny was involved in any of those occasions.
Too often we equate success with monetary wealth and possessions. But I’ve seen wealthy folks with great possessions that were completely miserable inside, with no sense of success. And I’ve seen folks with no money or position of power that lived with a purpose and passion that brought them peace and contentment, which was their success.
The definition of success is: The achievement of something desired, planned, or attempted. And each person’s vision of what success looks like is unique and individual, and it can change over time.
For instance, take a person that is overweight and sedimentary overall, and put them on a track to begin walking. When they reach the 1-mile mark, they celebrate a victory. If they continue to walk each day and add a few more steps, eventually they will be celebrating at the 2-mile mark.
Perhaps when they reach the 2-mile mark, they decide to switch to bike riding and start exploring their area. Or they might join a gym and start weight training, or swimming. It’s up to them to decide what they will do, but each achievement, or success, is another step up in their personal journey.
Being patient was not one of my virtues in youth. Quite often I would try to force success, only to blow it and lose any chance of achieving the goal. Of course, this brought a great deal of pain and frustration, at times making me want to give up and quit.
I finally learned something that has been invaluable to me. If you want to be successful and wise, then hang around with people that are more successful and wiser than you, and learn from them. In doing so, I learned that determined effort, being patient, persistent, and watchful, will eventually bring the desired reward or result.
Like planting a tomato seed. If you tend it properly with water and sunlight and good soil, you will eventually have juicy tomatoes ready to enjoy. But if you try to hurry the process, like plant too early or give it too much water, you end up killing the plant and get nothing for your trouble.
At the same time, you must be watchful and ready to take action when necessary. For instance, if you notice signs of bugs eating your plants, you must take steps to get rid of the bugs without destroying the plants.
Above all, don’t procrastinate with your opportunities of harvest, or you may miss out.
One of the best gardens I’ve ever grown was obliterated because I didn’t want to go out in the rain to harvest. But the moose that came through that morning didn’t let the rain stop them from eating my entire garden.
Though I lost the garden that year, I learned some valuable lessons from the experience. And those lessons have helped me in other areas of my life.
Yesterday I had a set back with staying focused on my work. It was just one of those days with distractions that I had no control over. But it led to a quick round of self-doubt and frustration, with feeling inadequate. But in the middle of beating myself up for not completing my work, I realized, not every day is going to go exactly as planned. Sometimes there are going to be detours in life that we can’t avoid. But it doesn’t mean we failed, and it doesn’t mean we can’t still feel accomplishment in whatever we do get done. Every step counts, even the ones we didn’t plan on taking.
Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”, as he continued to work on his light bulb.
Imagine, trying something 10,000 times before succeeding. Most folks give up after 2 or 3 attempts.
Mr. Edison learned valuable insight from each attempt, even if only what did not work. And then he moved on to the next attempt. In doing so, he not only eventually succeeded in inventing the light bulb, he also had gained a substantial amount of knowledge along the way.
The only real failure is in giving up, or worse, never trying at all.
I am thankful for the successes in my life because they brought confidence, encouragement, and satisfaction.
I am also thankful for the times when I didn’t succeed, because they gave me knowledge, ideas, and taught me perseverance to keep trying, to think and work harder.
What does success look like to you? How hard are you willing to work for it? Get out there and get started on your dream, even if it’s only a tiny step today. Then take another step tomorrow, and keep going. It’s your dream, your life. Only you can live it.
Have a Happy Tuesday! – Amber
“Live a life worth living, a life of integrity. Be real, kind, helpful and wise, always with an attitude of gratitude. And whatever it is you do, give 110% effort to it, even in the little things”. – Amber
Copyright © 2019 Amber Leggette-Aldrich.