If there ever was an elusive creature in our world today,
I think that it would be success.
She always is two more steps ahead of you, slightly out of your arms’ reach. And just when you think that you have caught up to her, she leaps out of your hands and off into the distance, laughing at your failed attempts.
Sometimes I wonder why I even try to be successful when it always ends with me remaining empty handed and feeling like a complete failure. It can be humiliating trying to be successful. Guys that end up with nothing to show for all their efforts are the butt end of jokes around the water cooler.
I could be convinced that success is the one thing that man will never be able to possess; that it is actually a figment of our collective imaginations.
I’m sure that you would agree. Because what man or woman has finally achieved success? Isn’t there always another corner office that is being lusted after, or another promotion that we will devote countless hours and precious energy into acquiring? Or what award winning author has not sat down again at their desk and tried to plunge into some former glory well of inspiration to pen another book? What musician has not contemplated trying to patch things up with old band mates for the sake of a world wind tour and the quick buck of the loyal fans?
Add in your own examples, your life instances where you sought success. This list could go on forever, into all different avenues of employment. And still, success is elusive. They don’t quite get it, or they can’t get enough.
It can be exhausting trying to be successful. Trying to catch that elusive beast can take everything right out of you, leaving you totally broken. Sometimes the pursuit of success leads one to the point of such aggravation that giving up and never trying again sounds like a wonderful idea.
I’ve had that idea lately. Success hasn’t been something I’ve caught much of. I don’t have a corner office anywhere. Promotions aren’t even a thing where I work. There is not glory in getting your hands oily. There is no fame in turning a wrench these days.
Success is something I will never have. At least, I’ll never have success the way we talk about it these days.
We often define success as getting to the top of the ladder. Being #1 is the perfect example of being successful. That is often the very picture that we form in our minds. Accomplishing or achieving first place is the make of success. Gold medals and trophies are the things that we pursue and they are awarded to us when we succeed.
What if that is a poor definition of success?
Not a wrong definition, mind you. That is totally correct if you are looking for a dictionary definition. But when it comes to finding a definition that does not deflate your spirit, that doesn’t quite do it.
That definition still leads to an endless race chasing after the speedy creature of success. It drives harder than you can bear; it takes everything from you when you have nothing left. It leaves you with your hands empty and face down in the dirt. Is that really what you want?
What if success was simply defined this way?
Success is simply trying.
That may sound childish or naively simplistic, and I understand where you are coming from. But think about it for a minute.
What would you do if success meant you only had to give it an honest try?
What if you wanted to be a writer of love poems or children’s fiction? The only thing standing between you and that desire was trying. And as soon as you wrote that first prose or that first short story, you realized this. You had succeeded.
What if you wanted to be a cook or a singer? Trying a new recipe of an old favorite or adding a new spice to the lasagna would make you a success. Taking lessons to strengthen your vocal chords or practising in the shower would lead to the conclusion that you have succeeded.
You have tried. You took a chance. You took a step toward your goal of being something and you did it.
I’m not saying adding one spice to the lasagna or scribbling a few lines of “Roses are red, Violets are blue” suddenly make one the ultimate cook or poet. But think about this.
You saw a goal, something you wanted to be, something you wanted to try.
You took a lesson. You added the spice. You put pen to paper.
Even in that small step, you are succeeding. You are a person that is accomplishing things, that is getting things done.
To think of life in this way, it stirs something inside of me. It is as if my spirit is smiling. I feel joy in the fact that I am attempting things, putting myself out there, that I am not deflated or defeated. I feel happiness in the simple truth that I tried. And in that, I succeeded.
We often feel that to be successful we have to be the greatest at something, or at the least revered as a great one of many. That may be true, but I know this to be true.
To try is to succeed.