Monday, March 10, 2008

Pondering Success

I hate forwards to my e-mail. The reasons for my hatred are varied, but if I had to narrow them down to just one it would simply be this: a forward is the attempt by the sender to feel as if they are staying in contact with you although the contact requires little or no effort and is non-personal. For this cause, I seldom open forwards people send me. Keyword: seldom.

Recently, I was sent a forward that attracted my attention. I do not remember who sent the forward to me; I wish I could. In the subject line was the word “success.” Now I am interested in success and the questions that surround the concept. What is success? How is success defined? Is the word success a concrete term or a relative one? That is, can the definition of success be one thing for one person and something entirely different for another (relative), or is it the same for all human beings (concrete)? Is success a destination at which some people arrive and others fail to achieve, or is it a journey that humans embark upon that has no final stopping place? Is success tangible or intangible? How do I know if I am succeeding or if I am rationalizing? So, with all these questions in mind, I opened the dreaded forward.

What I found inside the e-mail delighted me. As usual, there was no personal greeting or expression of love. As usual, I had to scroll through dozens of e-mail addresses of people I did not know (and a few that I did). Finally, at the bottom, the following quote:
“The road to success is not straight. There is a curve called Failure, a loop called Confusion, speed bumps called Friends, red lights called Enemies, caution lights called Family, and flats called Jobs. But, if you have a spare called Determination, an engine called Perseverance, insurance called Faith, and a driver called Jesus, you will make it to a place called Success.”

You may be wondering why the above quote excited me so much. Frankly, it does not answer any of the great mysteries encircling the analysis of success. It does hint at the notion that success is a journey, but it also, with equal certainty, calls success a destination. It has no scholarly value. It offers no evidence of fact. But what it does do is offer the reader the hope of success. The quote even recognizes some familiar obstacles and some tested solutions to those obstacles.

While I am not certain what success is or what defines it, I am certain that everyone yearns to have the hope of achieving it. Perhaps people see success like I view it: something to build toward. In the following picture (which I am not smart enought to get loaded on this the architect, unknown to me or I would certainly give him or her credit, illustrates my thoughts well. The picture shows two circular disks. On one of the disks are several pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. There are four people lined up in an old pass-the-bucket-fire-brigade fashion passing along pieces of the jigsaw puzzle in a team effort to build a bridge to the disk which contains the word “SUCCESS.”

In this illustration, success has a definite starting place and a definite end. There are four people attempting to build a bridge to the same place: success. Each person is doing his or her part to achieve the goal. Each part of the bridge is made up of similar, yet diverse, pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, each piece representing an obstacle or a time in the builders’ lives.

What is not seen in this illustration is the vision dancing in the builders’ heads, the desire burning in their bones to reach their common destination, or the greatest motivator of all…the hope of achieving success. This illustration demonstrates the words Zig Ziglar has made so famous: “You can get anything you want in life…provided you help enough other people get what they want in life.

Here is my point. Success, whatever you determine it to be, is yours for the taking. Achieving success will not be easy, and, in some cases, acquiring it may not be fun. But it will always be worth the cost. So regardless of your circumstances, never let your desire of success or your hope of success fade. Set your goal. Keep your eyes on that goal. And don’t let anything…failure, friends, confusion, enemies, family, or job…get in the way. Instead, let your determination, perseverance, faith, and God drive you to that coveted resort called Success.