Saturday, March 28, 2009

What is success? 3-18-09 column

We are a people of comparative nature. We compare te greatness of things to "sliced bread," and "anything we've ever seen." We also take it upon ourselves to compare our success to those in our respective fields or those who have achieved great things that we ourselves would like to emulate.

But sometimes, there is a slight shift in the progression of things. Instead of leaving the comparisons as they are, we latch on to the successes that we respect and try to make them our own.

I read an interesting quote that made me think of this. It said, "if you judge your own success by comparing the success of others, you'll always be left chasing it."

The more I thought about this, the more true it seemed to me. After all, we often want the next best thing, the ideal situation or the lifestyle that we deserve.

However, if we continually try to reach the success of others, we will only hurt our own chances of success more.

It's like neighbors that have two different hobbies - one is a gardener, the other is a painter. The painter sees the successful garden of his neighbor and, despite having no green thumb and an aptitude for painting, decides to have just as successful a garden. So, he puts his effort into it, his time and his focus, only to find that no matter what he does, he cannot make the garden grow like his neighbor. All the while, he pays no attention to his easel and allows his skills with a paintbrush to get rusty, effectively ignoring his true talent for one that he wishes were his own, but is that of someone else.

What, then, determines success? The answer is rather simple: We do. Our actions and their results, compounded with the quality of those results determine whether or not we have succeeded.

What's more, we shouldn't always depend on outside sources to tell us that we are or aren't successful. if the painter paints a portrait and that painting is sold, who am I to tell the painter that he is not a success?

While I cannot argue with setting goals that have the hopes of attaining something similar to someone else's success, I have tried to tell myself that if I stick to what I do and o it to the best of my abilities, the success that I would otherwise be chasing, will come in due time.

Perhaps this week, instead of thinking about what could be by looking at how much someone else has accomplished and figuring out how to get to the same level in the same way, we should focus on what we can do to be proud of our own successes.

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