The Laws and Secrets of Success Part 4
Yes Arising From Insecurity or Fear As mentioned, the law of reciprocity is quite powerful. As a result, we know that if we want others to do things for us, that we have to do things for them. This is perfectly healthy, except when it is taken too far.
There is a time to give to others, and a time to receive from them. Giving is powerful, but only when it is freely given. Freely given implies that we have a choice to give or not to give. This makes the giving powerful, because we made the affirmative decision to give.
Some people are people pleasers. They have to give until it hurts because they are afraid to say No. People pleasers avoid being disliked, and they avoid confrontation. They may give but be resentful for the imposition. Or they may pretend to give, or give halfway, and pull the receiver’s strings such that the gift is no gift at all. Instead it becomes a passive-aggressive drama.
A martyr complex.
“After all I did for you!!”
Obviously, this isn’t healthy giving. In fact, you could make a convincing argument that it isn’t really giving at all. It strikes me as taking disguised as giving. A fox guarding the henhouse type of giving.
Successful individuals are wary of people pleasers because they understand that the giving is done out of weakness rather than out of strength. That is why people pleasers get taken advantage of, and why the saying “no good deed goes unpunished” perhaps arises, for it certainly applies to these folks. People pleasers aren’t really being taken advantage of. They are individuals who seemingly have a lot to give but in reality not so much.
There are many forms of this. Giving, for example, to inspire guilt, or with strings attached. Reciprocity is a powerful force but ebbs and flows. It can be accountable but it is not desperate. It does not keep strict score. People who are insecure know at every moment who is one up and one down, because they feel vulnerable to being down. Those more secure in themselves have a realization that good relationships have an ebb and flow which makes keeping strict score difficult and frankly not useful. Yes, they do have a developed sense of equal relationships and will exit unequal ones, but they’re not panicked by every perceived slight, personalizing it and turning it into a catastrophe.
Hence, successful people are, as you might imagine, not into the drama. They don’t need it. It doesn’t do anything for them.
Those with poor self-esteem may also be punishing themselves by giving too much, such as being invested in the martyr complex or victim mentality. To receive requires self-esteem. I need to be worthy of receiving. To be identified with a victim mentality can seem a sense of solace in an insecure world. I’m so good that no one appreciates me.
I guess they call that winning by losing, but it still looks like losing to me (real winning by losing, I believe, is when you walk away or responsibly give in when facing unproductive battles).
Those with poor sense esteem may be afraid of confrontation. Confrontation to a fragile sense of self is frightening, for it feels as if it is a danger to one’s very existence. Successful people address issues and address problems, it is one of the hallmark qualities of their success. As a result, by definition they must confront the challenges that stand in their way, and yes, you guessed it, these challenges involve people.
While successful people have learned how to pick their battles, it does not mean that they avoid facing issues in any way. Successful people care about their success, and are prone not to let this fear of difficult interactions deter them from problem-solving. Successful people don’t expect success to come easily, and they realize that solving problems is what success is all about. Successful people also have a wellspring of inner resources, such that a difficult interaction is easier to rebound from and withstand.
Now it is clear why persistence and self-esteem are critical skills of salespeople, and for all business and life success. There is a great deal of failure in life. In fact it has been said that a winner is just a loser who kept going (or also, famously, someone who got up one more time than they were knocked down). Resilience is something inside a person which says I’m good enough, I’m strong enough, I can do it.
Not that it is always easy by any means. It is said that successful people are courageous, and this does not mean acting without fear but instead acting in spite of one’s fears. Successful people are also smart. They are not going to place themselves in situations in which the probability for catastrophic loss is great. But they will take intelligent risks. Intelligent risk is often defined as a, and perhaps the, key element of success, and that is because reward is the flip side of risk.
“Nothing ventured, nothing gained”. The degree of one’s success might well be quantified as the degree of one’s ability to engage in, and profit from, intelligent risk.
The higher the risk, the higher the potential reward. Of course, this is a matter of experience and skills. What is highly risky to one individual may well be old hat to another. And we each have our stronger and weaker areas.
Successful individuals can give a meaningful Yes to others because it flows out of a Yes to oneself.
This is what makes it both powerful and real.
The Confidence of No We’ve seen that Yes can arise out of weakness or strength. Of course the same is true for No. We’ve seen above how sometimes No can underlie Yes, and cover it. This is a No that appears at first glance to be a Yes.
That is a weak No.
The confidence of No is something differently entirely. The confidence of No is a clear and compelling No (no matter how it is received or understood) because it emanates from a place of clarity and resolve. The confidence of No is not essentially a No to the other as much as it is a Yes to self. That is, in this circumstance or situation, in order to be true to myself I have to say No to you. This isn’t reflection on you but rather a statement, from integrity, about me.
As we discussed before, you have to possess something before you can give it away. Can you give away a radio if you don’t own it? Can you give away love, or strength, or compassion, if you don’t already contain it within yourself? The confidence of No indicates that I can only be my best to you, others and the world if I am true to my goals and myself. Your request – or demand – will be factored into my thinking. If it is not factored in and considered then it is not a confidence of Yes or No but instead a robotic response in which I am so focused on me that I cannot consider you.
If I consider you and say No, it may be out of either strength or weakness. I may be so fearful and hurting inside that I considered what you said intellectually but emotionally I was forced to say No. I had no other choice. If I considered what you said truly, and importantly, had the true option to say Yes but said No then this No, alternatively, comes out of strength.
Life is a series of continual tradeoffs. To say Yes to one thing often means or implies saying No to something else, or many things. Marrying one person means you are not marrying someone else (and if the marriage remains intact, anyone else). So, Yeses and Nos carry a great deal of repercussions (or implications if you prefer to think of it as such).
The confidence of No involves a level of self-awareness in regard to what these tradeoffs and repercussions are and how they relate to one’s goals. One cannot be confident in one’s No, or one’s Yes for that matter, if one does not know oneself well and where one is going and the reasons for the decisions that one is making. The strengths of one’s decisions will always reflect the strength of one’s knowledge of oneself and one’s commitment to one’s goals. The self-aware individual who is highly committed to one’s goals is keenly focused and, as a result, highly resistant to the requests, pleas, commands or demands of others which would throw one off track from these goals.
We discussed life largely being a battle of ideas. This is the competitive element of life of which we are each well aware. We are each continually confronted with many decisions which involve competing ideas. Our life is harmonious, and successful, to the degree that we can line up our thinking and behavior behind the ideas that matter most to us. This involves the sacrifice of those ideas that mean less to us, and a recognition that we cannot be all things to all people. When those rejected ideas are closely attached to others in our lives, then our rejection of those ideas may lead to interpersonal conflicts and the potential for those relationships to wither, break apart or
The Power of No indicates a maturity level in which the individual is willing to positively confront the expectations of others that contrast with one’s own, with the knowledge that doing so may impact relationships that one has. Life is a series of people coming into and out of our lives and becoming more and less close. We grapple with issues with people as we grapple with the ideas that we feel that we can and cannot embrace. The Power of No is a power, or empowering, to the degree that it reinforces an identity and life direction that we believe in. Often we are torn and conflicted between competing interests and loyalties, and these situations, often painful, if we face them result in our learning more about ourselves and our priorities. For it is when we are in conflict or struggle that we often learn the most about ourselves. We have ideas about ourselves and what we believe and what we will do when under stress and challenge but these become tested by actual events and our responses may or may not be as we planned.
Highly successful individuals have pretty much of an unyielding spirit in regard to the power of No. Less successful individuals believe what they believe in regard to their life goals, but are quick(er) to crack and deviate under pressure. As a result, they may blame others (or themselves) for becoming distracted from one’s goals. Highly successful individuals are extraordinarily resistant to such distractions, and that is why one can witness such individuals withstanding high degrees of pressure while still maintaining their stance and dedication to the Power of No.
Conclusion:No, as with Yes, can be a sign of either strength or weakness, depending upon the factors involved. Successful people say Yes a lot because they understand the principle of helping others as being vital to success. However, successful individuals also have the Power of No. They understand they are responsible for their own success and how important it is not to be distracted by others away from one’s goals. As a result, successful individuals can become highly impervious to the direction and demands of others when these are viewed as being inconsistent with the directions that one has planned for one’s life.
Success Area 8 – The Wisdom to Know The Difference
What is signal and what is noise, or, in earlier parlance, what is the wheat and what is the chaff?
Or you’ve likely heard The Serenity Prayer, which begins (sometimes the wording is slightly different from version to version):
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”
But how do we know the difference?
In this chapter we break down some elements of wisdom that the successful employ in this regard.
Discernment Discernment has many nuances of meaning. Most directly, it often means judging clearly or understanding well. Sometimes it can have a spiritual connotation.
To me, discernment involves seeing to the heart of the matter such that one can differentiate and distinguish the important from the unimportant. Discernment has the notion of separating, as above, the wheat from the chaff or the signal from the noise. Discernment is thought of, rightfully so, as a skill of refinement. Those with a cruder understanding of a matter, topic, situation, person or the like will be less able to discern meaningfully or well. One who can discern well is a virtuoso, an expert, a clear and incisive thinker.
Discernment involves the notion of peeling away of the outer or superficial levels in order to see to the heart of a matter. Individuals with a high degree of discernment are able to separate the important from the unimportant because they can see and understand both and distinguish between the two.
So, what contributes to discernment, and how is it utilized by the successful?
Discernment is a hallmark quality of the successful. We live in a complex and confusing world. Insight and clarity are powerful success factors which are not easily attained in such conditions. It is said that the world is not only moving faster than ever but that the pace of change is increasing as well. The rate of change is accelerating! In such a world, one may well be the proverbial duck with the legs going faster and faster even to stay in one’s relative place. Those who are not sprinting full speed are likely being left way behind! In such conditions, how can one keep a clear head? With the stress of living amid constant change, how can we ever know what we indeed need to know and what we don’t? What is essential and what is extraneous?
It is often said that information is power, but the problem we face in the modern age is not a dearth of information – it is everywhere –but instead information overload. Those who win are not those who have the most information but those who have the best information well understood. Organizing information in a manner in which it is actionable in regard to desired results is critical for success. When we talk about time management, prioritization, even stress management, these each imply the ability to manage information successfully towards desired goals.
You’ve probably heard of the expression, first things first. One meaning of the term is placing the greatest value on the things which are most important. Another meaning, perhaps related, is tackling the most important things first. Successful individuals are highly disciplined. They’re not time-wasters, focused on the less important activities which may be easier or more fun. Successful individuals have that discipline to do the hard things, and the hard things first before spending time on the less important. I talked about the famous 80-20 rule and how 80% of one’s success results from 20% of one’s activities. Highly successful individuals focus on that 80% first.
Discernment is the ability to determine what those most important activities are. Most people are busy, and we each have the same 24 hours per day. Successful individuals are able to better discern what is most productive activity and then have the discipline to focus on that.
Is discernment native intelligence or is it the result of experience? This is an interesting question. Certainly some individuals have good discernment abilities, relatively speaking, across the board or across a swath of domains, although clearly experience and expertise in the domain of question can also be critically important. Experienced jewelers are likely to have a discernment in regard to issues with precious stones that laypeople often do not. Grade school teachers are likely to have a discernment in regard to learning principles in their pupils that outsiders may not. Anything that is more familiar to us tends to have patterns and trends that we pick up over time and discern and understand.
But the ability to get to the heart of the matter and separate the important from the unimportant can also be a general skill. Some people seem to have a skill of getting the best out of situations, including people, while others seem to get lost and not “see the forest for the trees”.
Discernment is a function of maturity. You can’t see what is important and unimportant in a situation except as it relates to the broader backdrop of who you are and what you understand. As we saw earlier, life can be as much (or more) projection and creation as it is perception, so what we see in situations and in people will be largely influenced, if not dependent, upon our own self-awareness.
As noted, discernment to some entails a spiritual dimension, a spiritual seeing. Such individuals may believe that it is only from the spiritual perspective that one can see most deeply, and thus possess the greatest level of discernment.
Judgment “She’s a good judge of character”
“She demonstrates good judgment”
“It’s a judgment call”
What is judgment, and what does it involve? I think of it as the ability to make well-reasoned and astute assessments.
That is a substantial component of “the wisdom to know the difference”.
If discernment sees to the heart of the matter and peels the unimportant from the important, then judgment, which is clearly related, is perhaps the faculties, wherewithal and skills by which such discernment is possible. In judgment we weigh, we consider, we analyze.
Judges, for example, would be expected to use all of these skills, and more, in making their judgments.
And with us all.
But we can also get carried away and become “judgmental”. Having good judgment implies that we have a clarity of focus, values and decision-making upon which to accurately make such decisions for good. If our focus is poor we cannot have good judgment. If our values are poor we cannot have good judgment. And if our decision-making processes are poor then we cannot have good judgment.
Our judgment flows from our character, which is really another way of saying that it flows from the desires of our heart. If the desires of our heart are mature or elevated, then our judgment will, flowing from these, be refined. Conversely, if the desires of our heart are base then our judgment, or judgments, reflective of this, will be coarse.
Are you with me so far?
We talked before about character being destiny. Judgment is a mechanism by which character is expressed. As our life is our collective history of the choices that we have made, judgments are critical in regard to where we wind up based upon the choices we make.
What kinds of judgments do successful people make? Successful people favor their higher selves over their lower selves in the choices made. We all feel angry at times, mistreated, neglected, misunderstood. Successful people identify with the higher parts of oneself which transcend these slights and hurts, forgive others and see the best in them.
Another definition of judgment is reckoning, e.g. the notion of judgment day. This alludes to the fact that that the judgments that we make mold our destiny. Perhaps karma is, in a sense, nothing more than a playing out in time of the judgments we have made.
As has been famously said, “thoughts are things”, and also, “as you believe, so you will receive”. The power of the mind, flowing from the heart and reflecting our character, dictates our present and shapes our future.
Successful individuals take responsibility for their thinking and the judgments that they make. They don’t blame others, because they understand that taking a victim mentality is a mental practice which, from a karmic perspective, puts into the motion the potential for one to become victimized (or perhaps more accurately, define oneself as such).
Experiences are the mirror of our lives and judgments are the driver of these experiences.
As within, so without.
Attitudes and Beliefs We come to our judgments based upon the attitudes and beliefs that we hold. Attitudes and beliefs might be considered preferences, perspectives or even prejudices (in the more general use of the term). They are inclinations, mental sets. I discussed previously how our perceptions are often projections. Attitudes and beliefs give rise to these projections. We believe, as a few examples, that people are kind, or evil, or untrustworthy, or good. These then are projected onto our walk in the world, dictating our experiences and coloring them.
A few possibilities covering part of a range of attitude and beliefs that we might witness in the world:
I have a protectionist attitude because I believe that the world is a scary place.
I have a calm and loving attitude because I believe that the world loves me.
I have a cooperative and collaborative attitude because I believe that the interests of another are not, ultimately, separate from my own.
I have a competitive attitude because I believe that life is a zero sum game.
Beliefs and attitudes are perhaps the beginning building blocks of the “the wisdom to know the difference” and thus critical in determining the quality and successful we attain in life.
What kind of life will I have if I have primarily a competitive attitude? If I have a cooperative one? Every attitude can be elevated or evolved to its greater good. Competition can be elevated to growth, cooperation can be an
elevation of acquiescence. There is a seed in every belief and attitude that points us and drives us to our next level of development. That is why there is a seed or element of truth is anything that is thought or believed.
But it can become very much distorted.
And although I am not sure who would be the judge in such a matter, certainly there is a hierarchy in regard to the more evolved versus baser nature of varying attitudes and beliefs.
Successful people have successful beliefs. They understand that the energy in the belief propels them towards the attainment of the desire contained within the belief. It is said that God does not put a desire within our hearts that we do not have the potential of actualizing. It is true also, however, on the other hand, that part of life involves learning how to let go, as life is in some sense largely a continual process of both acquisition and loss.
Growth requires effort, which at the higher levels can be thought of as focus or concentration. It has been said that the vast majority of the energy in the universe is dark energy and dark matter. The natural inclination is towards entropy and decay.
According to http://science.nasa.gov/astrophysics/focusareas/what-is-dark-energy/: “It turns out that roughly 68% of the Universe is dark energy. Dark matter makes up about 27%. The rest – everything on Earth, everything ever observed with all of our instruments, all normal matter – adds up to less than 5% of the Universe.”
Talk about a stacked deck!!
This principle plays out in our daily lives:
“I’ll just take it easy today and rest.”
“I feel like giving up.”
“I’ll never reach my goals.”
I don’t know why the universe is apparently stacked against us in this way but I do know that even though we may often have our doubts and face constant struggle, we do find a way to make it through. Perhaps such struggle is a mechanism for developing our empathy and other “spiritual muscles”, perhaps it is a little bit of a cosmic joke, I wish I knew.
In any event, achievement takes constant effort against this inertia principle to keep going forward and advance.
Just because other people seem to be swimming along, don’t assume that they have it easy, or any easier than you. Successful people realize and accept that life is difficult. They don’t expect it to be otherwise. They gird themselves up to face the challenges that arise.
Much of the New Age movement details wonderful principles such as the law of attraction, etc., but for these principles to work still require effort. Too many people think that you just sit back and meditate and one’s life is transformed. Inner peace is essential for success, because as long as we are struggling within ourselves significantly it can be seemingly impossible to get even meaningfully started. But action arising out of this calm state is also required. If we are attentive to our inner state we will feel a natural intuition of when it is time to work and when it is time to rest. Naturally the oak tree grows and instinctively the fox runs. They know how to do these things. But the tree must withstand the storms (a little flexibility doesn’t hurt) and the fox must rely on experience (and cunning) and effort to survive.
It is the way of the world. Even the Bible explains that faith without works is dead.
It is paradoxical that we are perfect already, but in constant state of development as well.
Successful individuals use the power of their beliefs and attitudes to infuse their actions in the world. They develop habits, such as self-discipline, cooperation laced with self-reliance and meditation, gratitude and/or prayer which help propel their beliefs and attitudes into taking root in the world. The development of one’s greatest potentialities lies, interestingly enough, in striving for a purpose greater than oneself. Successful people realize that while they may be a mere speck in the Universe that they also, in some sense, as spiritual beings, paradoxically, can tap into the cosmic infinity at the same time. It is this accepting of paradox which helps to reconcile the contrasting elements experienced in life. We don’t need to have all of the answers to live a life of conviction and purpose. The fact that we do not know everything does not mean that we know nothing, or nothing of importance. Life guides us moment to moment, teaching us what we need to know at that time.
Successful individuals use their beliefs and attitudes, along with judgment, discernment and other qualities, to position themselves to be receptive to the instructive beneficent forces of the universe. When the essential properties of a man or woman line up with the laws of the universe, one serve as a productive and often joyful vessel in one’s experience and life’s work.
This is success.
Conclusion Discernment, judgment and beliefs and attitudes are each critical in regard to the wisdom to know the difference, and to success.
Discernment is an inner wisdom or light, serving as a source of navigation in a complex, complicated and challenging word.
Judgments, beliefs and attitudes are the building blocks, arising from character, which structure our path in the world. The ability to separate out the signal from the noise, the important from the important, is the critical dimension upon which we navigate between success and failure. Each of these serve as tools to move us forward, if well utilized, towards the attainment of our goals and dreams.
Success Area 9 – Rising to the Top is Only the Beginning
I said before that character may well be destiny.
Here’s another one: Talent takes one to the
top, but only character keeps one there.
This final chapter will examine why some people make it to the top (that is, a high station in life) but fall (or stagnate) while others keep on progressing and moving forward.
A Drive to Achieve Will is a fundamental force in the universe, and extraordinarily powerful. If you have the will to do something, the motivation, as well as sufficient ability, then you are quite likely to succeed.
But success can be either temporary or lasting.
Will without character is dangerous, because we may accomplish our goals but these goals may be misguided or harmful. There are some people highly motivated to do bad things. Highly motivated criminals come to mind.
Why God gave us free will but not always the wisdom to best use it is something that is well beyond anything I understand. What I do believe is that Life also instills limits in our lives. Some of these limits in our lives are self-imposed, as we are socialized to regulate our own behavior. This is necessary for society to insure that we do not transgress upon the rights of others, and that they do not transgress upon us. When these internal controls prove inadequate, then external controls (think
everything from the admonishments of others up to prison and police etc.) can come into play.If we did not have external controls then the failure of people to self-regulate due to ineffective and underdeveloped internal controls would prove increasingly dangerous.
The balancing of internal and external controls is critical, and a judgment call. For example, it has said that it is better that 100 guilty people go free than that one innocent person be convicted. I honestly don’t know if that is a proper balance or not, but I would say that it is important that as a society and a planet that we collectively come up with what we believe, based upon reflection and hopefully wisdom, is the appropriate balance.
Talent It has been famously said that talent is equally distributed across the globe, but that opportunity is not. Certainly, wherever you go, talented and highly talented individuals are to be found. Talent can and will take one to the top. If you are extraordinarily motivated and extraordinarily talented then you’ll have a major leg up in this competitive world in regard to achieving great success.
However, getting to the top is not the same as staying there. In Chapter 2 I mentioned a guess that maybe 15% (a total guess, really) get to the top by unethical means, such as lying, cheating, bullying etc. It is these 15% that are especially prone to fall. Elephants have long memories, but humans do as well. It is famously said “be careful how you treat people on the way up, because these are the same people you will meet on the way down”.
Isn’t that the truth?
Think about how people have treated you in your life. While forgiveness is most certainly overall a virtue as well as being liberating to the forgiver, I also believe, on the other side of the scale, that life places these memories in our minds towards contributing to a world of accountability. In short, we’re all accountable to each other in this world. You ride your car over the bridge and you trust that the engineers who built the bridge did an adequate job. You trust that the people who built your car designed it so that it is not going to blow up. You trust that the governments of the world are protecting your air from contamination so that this is not killing you as you go about your daily life (and if you don’t believe that last point, or any of them, you’re free to protest or take other corrective action against it).
We each have an internal notion of fairness. When we believe that someone has aggrieved us we notice. We may seek to fix the perceived unfairness in some way or we may just make a mental note. But we’re all watching over others whom we encounter in this life or by whom we are effected by in some way.
That can be either a reassuring or scary notion I suppose, based upon how it is perceived.
Life is an incredible tapestry. We share the same sources of air and water and we work, live and travel on common ground. We have roles and rules that help to organize what we do and are allowed to do. Hence our freedom, such as it is – and we are CONSTANTLY making
decisions – is also contained and constrained within this framework as well.
Life also constrains (or enables) us based upon our sphere of influence. For example, in a work setting, we may have the maturity and talent such that life puts us in charge of 10 people, or 100, or 1,000 or 10,000, as the case may be.
There are certain people, obviously, that you would not want to be responsible for 10,000 people.
Or even 10 in some cases.
Most essentially, talent may be the ability to get to where we wish to go. This may or may not be a tangible place, it can also be an expression, a feeling, even an idea that we come to in our mind.
Character Part 2 Following the earlier discussion of character in chapter 2, here I will discuss it as the differentiating factor between who stays on top versus who falls back down.
Have you ever heard the expression “Be careful what you wish for”?
Life knows what we can handle well and what we cannot. Imagine what kind of world it would be if we received everything that we want.
I’ve often wondered why life allows us to want and hope and even dream for things that may not be ultimately good for us. Perhaps part of the reason may be that we have to advance in terms of what we think we want and that is this a fundamental aspect of growth. Perhaps part of learning what we do want, or come to want as we continue to mature, is learning what we do not want, or no longer want.
Character, in one sense, is the totality of the things which we want and what we, in a corresponding fashion, hold to ourselves to be. This continually advances (and hopefully matures).
Character is what allows us to stay on top when we reach it.
It is the sustainability mechanism.
Think again of those lottery winners. Technically, by definition, they are wealthy individuals due to the fact that they currently possess a large sum of money. However, if they do not also possess a wealth mentality, and instead possess one of being poor, then of course they are in fact poor individuals who temporarily have a great deal of money.
Such individuals at times cannot lose the money fast enough.
It is said that “a fool and his or her money are soon parted”. I always wondered how the fool accumulated the money in the first place. Certainly it is good to gain, but it is better to keep. They say that rich people do not necessarily earn more than others (although sometimes they do) but in fact retain more. They spend, for example, their money on assets rather than liabilities. And they profit from tax advantages.
If we want to not only succeed but stay successful, we need to be wise. Everything is a stepping stone to everything else in life, so our successes, and also our failures, hopefully prepare us for greater successes down the line.
Success as We Define itSometimes what seemed like a success at one point in life does not seem so later on. That marriage that fulfilled us may feel a little different after the divorce. Our financial success may carry a bit of an edge if our personal relationships suffered at the same time.
SOMETIMES WE FALL FROM ONE SUCCESS BECAUSE WE ARE HEADED TO A GREATER SUCCESS DOWN THE LINE.
You’ve heard the expression that we learn more from failure than success. Sometimes failure teaches us to be more wise. Or more careful. Or more aggressive. Or more humane.Life is a learning experience, and other people often serve as our teachers. If we view our travels through life as a process, as a journey, then it reaches a point where we can assert that “it’s all good”. Not that we enjoyed every experience or wanted it at the time, but it brought us to where we are today as a person,something that many of us would not ever want to trade.
In this sense it is difficult to really talk about success versus failure, because there is no finish line, it’s always a work in progress (throughout this lifetime and some would state beyond) and how much success we’ve had in one area is related to the priorities we have had, our skills, and the choices that we have made.
Although this book has been about success, I believe that an equally useful paradigm, perhaps, is authenticity. Perhaps the degree to which we’ve been authentic to ourselves, and the level of evolution and development this authenticity has gained, is the truest measure of our level of success. That is, perhaps success is ultimately not externally defined — we broke a world record or became CEO — but relates to the degree that we were true to ourselves, became a better person, showed courage and determination, etc.
Redefinitions of Success That is a definition of success that I enjoy. It puts us all on a level field, and also removes comparison. The world becomes a bridge back to ourselves in regard to how we conceptualize success.
“Talent takes on to the top but character keeps one there”. Some attainments, or stations in life, are only temporary resting stops, while others develop into core and lasting components or our identity and roles. Sometimes we want a certain position in life for ego, and sometimes for soul. If we are knocked off a lofty perch because it doesn’t serve our higher nature is that a failure or success?
We are each part of the human condition. We hurt. We love. We feel joy. We feel pain. Are we succeeding or failing or are we simply experiencing the range of human experiences, including inner experiences, as we go through our lives?
I hope that this book has stimulated your thinking in regard to notions of success,traditional and not. I have used a great deal of quotes in this book, and one more, said famously by Shakespeare, seems to sum up pretty well: Of course he said: “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”