We did a little research recently on the website, BrainyQuote.com, and found that many people the world would label successful have made some insightful comments about how success may be achieved.
Some of the people quoted advocated tenacity as the primary means of succeeding: “The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will.” (Vince Lombardi).
Then there is the school of hard knocks theory of success: “Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success.” (Dale Carnegie).
There are those who advocate single-minded focus as a means to success: “Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other.” (Abraham Lincoln).
Some are less decisive about the precise process of achieving success, while simply encouraging effort: “Action is the foundational key to all success.” (Pablo Picasso).
And there were those who demonstrated both humor and modesty in describing luck as a player on the path to success: “Formula for success: rise early, work hard, strike oil.” (J. Paul Getty).
Taken together, the successful people quoted probably offer us some helpful insights about succeeding. Components to success could be tenacity, experience, focus, effort, and luck. Could you say you have achieved success by these means or some other? Are you successful?
Of course, to answer that question requires one important additional step – defining success.
What counts as success, anyway?
The people quoted above about their successes included a coach, a speaker, a politician, an artist, and a businessman. Each was highly important and influential in his particular venue. Perhaps when we think about success we are comparing ourselves to these very public high achievers. That’s natural enough.
Even Jesus’ disciples tended to define success that way. The disciples are described as hoping for notoriety, acclaim, power, and prestige.
But of course, there is more that can be said about success. And when Jesus gently chides his ambitious followers, it is not that he wants them to be losers or failures, but simply that he wants them to consider other possible venues of less public success.
Surely there are extraordinary thinkers, carers, helpers, encouragers, prayers, and hopers who never get much notoriety for their efforts, but that doesn’t make them unimportant.
Paradoxically, what makes for the most significant success in life, Jesus implies, may a willingness to do just such low profile but essential work and do it with every bit as much enthusiasm and drive as if its results were public.
So are you a success?
That might be a question worth re-addressing every now and then.
Try imagining how you might impact the world most beneficially, even if your efforts will be offered humbly and quietly, and then apply yourself to the task with all the proven means of success: tenacity, experience, focus, and effort.
And yes, like J. Paul Getty, we could all use a little luck!