What is success?
I suspect success is relative to one’s ambitions when starting out on the hopefully long path to death. I know when I left school, I was going to be a pop star – handsomely rich and famous enough to retire by the time I reached 30. It couldn’t be that difficult surely? I could play the piano pretty well, and had a good all-round musical education, both theoretical and practical. What could possibly go wrong?
Of course, it didn’t quite happen that way. So I am a failure. But hang on, I made a career of playing music, even though stardom was never reached. How many people are lucky enough to earn a living doing something which they not only love, but find it relatively easy to achieve? Maybe that is indeed success. And when music became more of a hobby and my career path turned to broadcasting, I continued to love what I was doing with a 20-year career as a presenter with the BBC. Surely that is success? Well, possibly not, because it was only at local level – I was never full-time on national radio……..
Mrs B and I lend small amounts of money to a wonderful organisation, https://lendwithcare.org/ that allows individuals and groups to make small loans to entrepreneurs in developing countries, and help them work their way out of poverty. From as little as £15.00, you lend the money, and it’s paid back to you in very small regular amounts. That’s nothing for us in the west, but a potential lifeline for many around the world. Are we successful because we can assist in this way, or are we failures for not doing more? I’m sure to those hard-grafting business people, this access to funds, as long as they can pay it back, makes them very successful indeed.
But recently, I think I discovered what success really means to me and Mrs B, thanks to the pandemic, would you believe. It was during the first total lockdown, back in March. In fact, here in North Cyprus, we have only had the one. We, like everybody else, had nowhere to go, not allowed, so no one to see. No travel possible, not even allowed outside our premises for exercise. Not been able to cuddle our loved ones, you would think that would make us extremely frustrated and lonely.
But guess what, we have modern technology available, so we can still see our grandchildren and great-grandson growing up. One afternoon, sitting in the garden reading, it struck me that rather than wallow in misery at what we couldn’t do and couldn’t have, we should instead count our many blessings at what we had got. A lovely garden, a villa of our dreams, freedom not to have to try and earn a living, or wondering how we were going to cope with the children not at school; pensions that would not be affected by any virus, and whilst we may not have much in the way of disposable funds, we owe not a jot to anybody.
Whatever is going on in the world, how can that lucky state of affairs be considered anything but successful?
What is success?
The Earth’s population is now around seven billion people so I presume that there’s roughly the same number of definitions of what success is. Money, career, family, artistic self-expression and much more…
It is much harder to me to cut this definition down to myself. Sure, I’d measure success, partly, in having enough money to live a life I’d want to live. In this respect, I am hardly a successful person. I mean I partly live a life I’d like to live but there’re things I wish I could’ve done with more money in my pockets. I am not talking ‘bout buying a Benz.
On the other hand, some things I find successful to me in my life are not measured by income. These are, in my case, my wife and kids, the things I’ve done as a professional now (or capable to do), maybe some sporting activities that I do for my own pleasure – just to have fun in life.
Back in 2008, when I got my black belt in karate, I wasn’t a very successful person professionally. But getting this thing was a good reward for years of practice and devotion. So that was a true success to me at that stage. Three years later I was circling the world shooting documentaries about things that I was very interested in, visiting places I’ve never dreamt to visit: I had a strong feeling of big good things in the air.
But there’re many ways where I wanted to succeed but I didn’t, both professionally and personally.
So how to catch this multifaceted thing? What would be its true and complete definition?
To me this is harmony. Harmony to live in peace with myself and the world outside my window. Easy to say, much harder to achieve.
Finally achieving it would be my true and ultimate lifetime achievement.
Will this harmony come down on me? Could I make it?
Only time will tell.
I Reject Your Definition of Success
I know I am an absolute outlier but I truly believe that the lust for money and power are the causes of most evil on this Earth. I have said in these pages before: I do not believe you can become rich without betraying those around you. If I remember right, I said: “without throwing a few friends under the bus.”
We read in the News where this Prince or that Billionaire raped some young woman. This has absolutely nothing to do with sex: this is all about power. “I can do anything I want with you and nobody will do say a word to me.” They are right. Donald Trump is right: He can commit murder in the middle of Fifth Avenue.
Years ago, I owned a small business in Fairfax County, Virginia, US. A part of this business required me to go into customer’s homes. Fairfax County was the second richest in America at the time. Everybody lived in McMansions.
And they were miserable.
And they had miserable children.
“I will be happy if I can only make another twenty thousand a year. I only need a little more” – “I bought my Son a new Corvette for eight grade graduation and he is still drinking! I don’t know what the hell is wrong with that kid.”
The awful truth of it all is that we do have to have money; at least some money, to be happy. The very thing required for the basic building blocks of life also brings so much misery.
You measure success by money and power? You have already failed.
I will never be successful in the eyes of those around me but I believe happiness must come from within. I reject your definition of success.