Last week, I had the privilege of speaking in front of a large group of lovely high-level executive women from a well-known and prestigious banking institution. The topic was “Diversity of Success”.
Let’s start with the definition of Success: Webster defines Success as "the fact of getting or achieving wealth, respect, or fame.” Historically, success by this definition has often been associated with very ambitious people, long hours and hard work.
This is the definition that has driven the western world for quite a few centuries. During this time, this particular version of success has been an important force. It was a driver of progress during times such as the industrial revolution. People living by this code of success, like the Vanderbilts, Carnegie, and Rockefellers, helped usher in the modern world with the railroads, steel, and the oil industries. Even Edison, who had an insane work ethic and held over 1,000 patents, said: "Success is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration.”
This is not the only definition of success. Depending on where one lives, the local culture, and even the Zeitgeist (the spirit of the times when one lived), success may mean something different. Take for example the “Blue Zones.” Blue Zones are 5 designated areas of the world that have the most centurions; people who live over 100 years of age and live healthy, happy and well.
The people in these regions live simply and close to the land. Success to them is happily getting up each day to a modest life of growing their own food and visiting with other people in the community. They are not concerned with a wealth of things, but the wealth of a life.
The late Zig Ziglar was one of the most respected modern day experts on success, motivation, and leading a balanced life. In his book Born to Win!, he said that success cannot be defined in one sentence, but instead it is comprised of many things. One could argue that the definition depends on the individual and one size does not fit all”.
Steven Covey wrote in his very successful 1989 book "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” said that success is categorically individual,"If you carefully consider what you want to be said of you in the funeral experience, you will find your definition of success.”
What does success mean to me?
Success means many things to me on many different levels, but at the end of the each, success means “did I serve all sentient beings well, with care, compassion, understanding, and love?” If the answer is Yes, then I was successful that day. It is said that a truly evolved being is one that values others more than itself, and that values love more than it values the physical world and what is in it.
Many people from all walks of life are living from what can be termed as survival energy, a place of which one is only looking to get, to have, and to be served. Yet many ancient texts, including the Old and New testaments, the Qur’an, the Hindu Vedas, the Tao and Buddhist texts, tell us that one should live each day in Service to Humanity and the world. These thoughts have been further echoed across the centuries and cultures from great spiritual leaders like Jesus, Buddha, Rumi, Muhammad, Gandhi, Mother Teresa, all the way to the current contemporary spiritual leaders like the Dali Lama, Ram Dass and Dr. Wayne Dyer (who we just lost last year). They proposed we wake up each day asking, “How can I serve?” rather than the more typical “What can I get?” or “How can I be served?”
It has been often said in various ways, and from many sources over the course of history, “It is better to give than receive.” When you give without expecting anything in return, it comes back to you tenfold. I can say from experience that once you put your focus there, everything changes for the better. When you put you focus on service first, the universe will open doors for you to assist you at every level.
In the workplace, in the community and even at home, always remember to treat people with kindness and compassion. You never know what they are going through and someday it may be you that needs someone to show you some kindness and respect when you are going through a difficult time. We’ve all been there.
Being a Libra I strive for balance in all I do. If we look at our first definition of success, the one from Webster's that has been more traditionally followed by the innovators of the last few centuries, we need to also take in the success of people from the recent past who followed a more spiritual approach. Take for instance the peaceful and successful influence of Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Teresa.
Gandhi managed to change and free a nation with nothing but love and peaceful intentions. No war, no guns, but he did have an army of sorts. He managed to have millions of peaceful followers long before there were the internet and social media.
Gandhi's most famous quote, “Be the change you want in the world.”
Mother Teresa managed to raise millions and millions of dollars for her cause to help the poor in India. She walked the slums of Calcutta and never got sick. She had a powerful belief that because she was doing God’s work she would be provided for, protected and very successful. That she was…and again…all before there was the internet.
She had this to say about money and service, “I think a person who is attached to riches, who lives with the worry of riches, is actually very poor. If this person puts his money at the service of others, then he is very rich.”
I want to leave you with these last few quotes from some of my personal ‘rock stars’ to think about.
“If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things”.
“Try not to become a person of success, try to become a person of value”.
And from the Holiness, the Dalia Lama:
“The Planet does not need more successful people. The planet desperately needs more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers and lovers of all kinds”.
“Judge your success on what you had to give up in order to get it”.
I’d love to hear what your views on success are, please feel free comment.
I hoped this blog served you well,
Blessings of Love & Light