What is Success?

September 19, 2019

At a business lunch a while back one of the participants asked that question.  Initially there’s an inclination to measure it vs. a variety of standards:  wealth, a position of power and influence, a solid family life, the ability to take nice trips, buy new vehicles, or reside in a large home.  There’s a certain level of fame, recognition, and standing associated with achievement.


What is success to you?  Before responding consider this quiz:


·         Name the five wealthiest people in the world.

·         List the last five Heisman trophy winners.

·         Name the last five Miss Americas.

·         Who are ten people that have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize?

·         How about the last half dozen Academy Award winners for best actress?

·         Name the last decade’s worth of World Series winners.


So, how did you do?


Here’s another quiz.  I bet your results will be much better:


·         List three teachers who aided your journey through school.

·         Name three friends who have helped your through a difficult time.

·         Who are five people that have taught you something worthwhile?

·         Who are three people that have made you feel appreciated and special?

·         How about five people you enjoy spending time with?

·         Who are six heroes whose stories have inspired you?


Ms. Clark resided on the other side of the backyard fence of the house where I grew up.  Mr. Clark had passed away before I began school so my most vivid memory was only of her. 


Mr. Clark and her had raised two sons, Bill and Bruce, who had grown up and left the Fort Worth area.  Their house was one of the first ones in our neighborhood, having been constructed at some point between the two World Wars.  Her recollections of which house was built when and the history behind the development of our subdivision and its residents were fascinating.


Her life was simple.  She didn’t drive and oftentimes walked four or five blocks to the grocery store or a couple of miles to church.  There was not a TV.  There was a radio where we would sit and visit on summer afternoons, eating Vienna sausages out of the can and listening to Paul Harvey news. 


Ms. Clark’s yard was immaculate.  The grass was manicured with a push style reel mower.  Trimming and edging was performed with hand clippers.  In summer!  In the Texas heat! 


I never heard Ms. Clark mutter a disparaging word about anything or anyone.  Hers was a life of contentment.  Even the dogs on our block gravitated towards her.  She died at 89 manually trimming her lawn.   It was a successful life.


Years later, yet still years ago, I got to know Fritz.  We attended the same church and were in the same service organization.  A retired pastor, he was approachable, practical, and possessed a sharp wit.  Conversations were never about him.


Our club met on Monday mornings.  As we arrived for one meeting we learned that one of his children, a son, had passed suddenly the day before.  We all felt badly for Fritz and could not fathom the pain of a parent going through the loss of a young adult child.  Needless to say we mentally excused his absence from the club gathering that day.


Quietly Fritz entered the room.  Awkwardly we offered condolences and reasoned that he needn’t be at the meeting.  Fritz admitted his sorrow, adding, “My son has gone home to be with his Maker.  As a person of faith, I trust in that promise and need to be where I believe God wants me.  That is all I can do right now.”  Thus we learned one person’s successful approach to grief.


For me, besides Ms. Clark and Fritz there are numerous other successes flying under the radar.  A few:

  • The friend, who when our family was the most strapped financially, gave us a car.
  • The teenage boy that lived across the street in Fort Worth, who always greeted me by name and taught me the importance of that.
  • A current fellow coaching colleague who is a sincere encourager.
  • Those who have sought my service and counsel as a coach and provide me the opportunity to celebrate with them when there is a breakthrough or accomplishment.

The people who make a difference in our lives are usually not the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards.  What they do share is an abundance of love.


Who would that be for you?


The Seed Sower