It’s not a new question, how do you measure success. We all know the standard answers and we certainly understand that it’s not just a house with a white picket fence, a good job and a happy family anymore. Do we measure success by our level of happiness? By the toys we’ve accumulated? Perhaps, it’s by our job title and salary.
My definition of being successful has definitely expanded and changed over the years from the natural progression in life and maturity as well as the challenges I’ve faced. I recently spent the day with someone who pushed the “success” definition into yet another direction. I would describe this person as balanced, happy, successful, optimistic and intelligent. Others might judge him differently. He’s in the midst of a colossal uphill battle riddled with brick walls in several areas of his life. He has none of the typical status symbols of success. He could easily bury himself in pity and despair but instead he focuses on helping those around him and creating opportunities with that which he can do right now. He doesn’t complain. He doesn’t whine. He doesn’t make excuses. He elevates. He encourages. He inspires. Imagine what he’ll accomplish when the walls are behind him.
Ponder this. What if success awaits and is built during the in-between times – while you face brick walls. I believe it was Archie Manning (if I’m wrong, please correct me) who told his sons to focus on PACE or performance after critical error. I’ve taken this on. I love what it stands for. Truly “successful” people probably overcome a lot of in-betweens and step up their PACE time and time again, against wall after wall. Call me crazy, but at this point in my life I find myself measuring success more and more by what occurs after conquering obstacles, after big disappointments and after admitted failures (or, mistakes if the F word is too harsh for you).
We can’t all be the Bill Gates and Steve Jobs of the world, but based on your circumstances and how you’ve created and reacted to them – your brick walls – you might be more successful than you think. My friend doesn’t have a nice car. He doesn’t even have a decent car. He has a hunk of steel with wheels that turn and a motor that barely gets him from A to B. He doesn’t own a house or a condo and he’s working in an industry that is getting crushed by the economy. I believe that he will have all of that again, however, with his patience and perseverance, his attitude and because he’s smart and talented.
So, let’s look at success another way. Consider the cumulative effect from hundreds of thousands of us staying the course, living our lives with dignity and strong moral character and reacting positively during our in-betweens despite the fact that we aren’t curing body odor or inventing popular Facebook apps or playing in the superbowl. Genuine success could be as simple as being part of a continuing chain of people who choose to put one foot in front of the other despite obstacles. Everyday, intelligent (book, street or both) peeps that find a way to contribute tangible or intangible worth to society. The alternative ranges from basic ineptness to extreme loserville. Not being a total drag on resources (time, energy and space, etc.) moves you to the middle and with a little effort, the win column. The “successful” side.
Please think about your in-between times, your walls, your natural talents, the incredible ripple effect of one small gesture and the strength and growth from adversity. Focus on your PACE and remember that success is measured by the positive and lasting impact you have on those around you. Your personal journey, even when you are stuck between brick walls, can create forward momentum and keep the rest of us moving. Group hug, everyone.