By Lee Sullivan
Random Writers Week 12 Topic: What is your definition of success?
I was recently reminded of a comment I made to a blog post back in December, 2010. The post was all about being useful and it’s one of my all time favorite blog posts ever by one of my favorite bloggers ever. I highly recommend you take a moment to read it. After I read the post I wanted to jump up and down because an epiphany hit me like a ton of bricks. After I was finished with my little epiphany moment, I took a few minutes to very mindfully post a comment. Here’s what I said:
During a recent workshop I was asked three questions. What do I want to BE? What do I want to DO? What do I want to HAVE? In one single blog post you have given me the answer that was so hard to come up with during that workshop.
I want to BE useful. What better feeling can one get than helping others, whether it’s providing a copy of a lost email (I never delete anything and everyone knows this about me) or hosting a fundraiser to change someone’s life. Both acts provide such a feeling of grace.
I want to DO useful acts. (see BE useful)
I want to HAVE trust. To have people trust you, to know they can count on you for not only the little things but for the big stuff, too, THAT is the ultimate reward. To know that my friends can turn to me when they need an ear, to know my boss can turn to me when he needs an important project completed on time, to know my coworkers can come to me for advice or assistance with a task, to know these people have trust that I’ll be there, that is the thing I most desire.
My dad was a big stickler about trust. It was something you had to earn and if you ever lost it, it would not be easily granted again. I can remember a few times when I betrayed my father’s trust and he did not forgive that betrayal quickly. Earning his trust again took a really long time and a lot of hard work. My father’s thoughts on this were so instilled in me that I’ve carried them with me my whole life.
I strive every day to do those things which inspire trust in me. However, I’m an over-committer. This means that I have a tendency to agree to do more than I have the time, energy or financial means to do. In most cases I can make it work but there are still times when I fall short of my commitments. I know that this may cause someone to trust me less and when that happens, it tends to eat away at me. Even when my failures to follow through aren’t significant, I really beat myself up for it.
People’s definition of success can be so varied. Some people define success in terms of financial stability or by their children’s happiness. For others, success can be making it through the day without a drink or a cigarette. For me, it’s hearing three little words – “I trust you.” I’ve always valued other people’s trust in me and my actions, and this is something by which I define my success as a human being. After all, if my word doesn’t mean anything, then I’ve failed others and I’ve failed myself.