Is Your Life a Success?

Last weekend I had the pleasure of working with a visual artist from Australia to finish the filming of his art film. He arrived on Friday afternoon and left for New York City on Monday morning. It was probably three of the most intellectually stimulating days of my life.

We worked from sunrise until sundown on Saturday and Sunday. The time passed quickly. I didn’t think the morning session would ever end, especially when the assistant stood in front of me with the clapper and called out, “Scene 1 Take 49.” It amazed me how many Takes we went through to get it just right.

Since we were filming in the woods there wasn’t anyplace to charge batteries or transfer information. Halfway through the day the assistant and I headed back to my house to quickly sort through some stuff and back-up the footage.

I’ve never been around an artist, so the experience was quite rewarding in its own way. Alex (the actual visual artist) is 35 and Chris (his assistant) is 21. It was amazing to see the world for a few days through their eyes. It gave me an entirely new appreciation for the way people see things.

As Chris and I headed back to the house we discussed many different things. Then he asked me out of nowhere if I considered my life a success. I didn’t hesitate before giving him the answer. It’s something I think about quite often. I slowly glanced at him as I drove down the road and responded, “I consider my life very successful.”

His innocent smile indicated that he wanted me to explain what I had just said. I went on to tell him that I believe too many people base “success” on their occupation, wealth and education, but I don’t feel that way. Success is too often correlated to someone’s level in the pecking order.

If you didn’t know two people and I introduced them to you and said, “This is John. He’s the president of the local bank. This is Billy. He’s a teller at the same bank.” which one would you tell me is the more successful one?

Without knowing either man most people would say John is the more successful of the two. This shows you how shallow some people can be without knowing it.

Success should be based on your internal well-being. Every one of us has something special inside that makes us who we are. I qualify my life as being successful because I’ve been able to reach goals that I’ve set. I’ve made the goals attainable and worked very hard to achieve them. While I have many more goals in front of me I prioritize and knock them off one at a time. If I feel one goal deserves more attention than another I make sure I do everything I can to achieve it.

I also base my success on the people I’ve encountered throughout my life. Have I done my best to leave a positive impression on them? Have I challenged their way of thinking or inspired them to try something a little different? Do my friends feel confident when speaking to me about personal issues? Can my family and friends instill their trust in me when they need a shoulder to lean on? Have I touched any of the children I’ve spoken to while doing seminars or demonstrations? Have people read my books and thought, “Wow, I know exactly what he’s talking about.”?

When I examine the questions I ask myself I feel confident in answering most of them in a positive manner. It leaves me with a great feeling, too. I don’t base my place in life by the car I drive, the title of my job or the amount of money I make in a year.

How many of you know someone who looks down their nose at others? I see it almost daily. I find it amazing how educated people look down their noses at others who have the same amount of education, but in different fields. They think their education is more prestigious because it’s in a “select” field.

Since many people have children in school (or did at one time) how many times have you seen a parent, teacher or school official look down on a bus driver without knowing anything about the person? Although you might not be guilty, I can assure you that it happens daily. I know this because after my father retired he decided to drive a bus. He likes to drive, he likes children, and he couldn’t sit still after being used to working his entire life.

Parents will yell and scream at him like he’s a piece of garbage. He hears the stories every day about other drivers as well.  Many of the drivers have retired from extremely good jobs.

The world would be a better place if we didn’t place standards on people according to our own ideas. We should get to know people and let them tell us about their journeys. It should be quite easy to offer an opinion once you know the facts. As an exercise ask a few people if they consider their life a success. If they give you an answer that directly relates back to their job or their material belongings you will know that’s how they qualify the term successful.

I would much rather meet a person who tells me about all the time he/she has spent hiking, kayaking, running, or doing whatever brings them happiness. I want to hear stories about a person who finds success through parenting, writing, reading or gardening.

I’ve learned the most from the people with the least. Life experiences and our ability to learn from them and improve ourselves is what defines who we are when the sun goes down behind the mountain every evening.

Just to keep everyone updated;  my surgery will be next Tuesday. It will require lot of rehab afterward, but I’m looking forward to the challenge. Without challenges life becomes dull and we lose our edge. It’s always a battle. I’m glad I have the mental toughness to deal with each blow as I receive it. Onward and upward. Enjoy life and think about what you need to do to be the most successful person you can be.

One Response to “Is Your Life a Success?”

  1. Todd, Love what you shared! Keep on writing – looking forward to your next entry- Laura

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