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What is true success?

Parents want their kids to be successful. This is the reason why parents make sacrifices. They work hard, save money and send their kids to schools with astronomical tuition fees, hoping for the best.

You and I want to be successful. Just take a look at the number of books with the word “success” written on their covers. I consulted my reliable researcher named Google and in just 0.35 seconds, it gave me some 1,110,000,000 articles and references with the word “success”.

But before anything else, what is success?

Some people equate success with being happy and fulfilled. This makes them feel “successful”. Others acquired the dreams they dreamt in their younger years. This makes them feel “successful” as well. For others, success is an award of distinction, a title, a position of influence. Some people define success based on themselves, some let the society define success for them. 

Are there general principles that could accurately measure whether a person is truly successful or not?

Let’s take a look at money.

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Motivational speaker and writer Zig Ziglar’s line on money is my favorite. He says, “Money isn’t everything... but it ranks right up there with oxygen.” All throughout the history of mankind, the pursuit of money is high on the list of those who want to be successful. And so success in this aspect may be objectively measured by the amount of money one has.

“The more money you have, the better you can be.” This is taught in the privacy of the home, and children are being trained to pursue it.

But the funny and amazing thing about this is that those who achieved this have written books, wrote articles and warned the rest of us that this never delivered the kind of “success” they longed for.

Accumulated money comes with a cost.

Please don’t get me wrong. Money is moral neutral. It is a tool. It is an instrument. The more you have, the more secure you feel.

Most people misquote the Scriptures when they say that “Money is the root of all evil.” This does not even make sense. If you look closely, the Bible teaches that it is the “love of money” that is the root of all evil. I am sure you know some people who are head over heels in love with it. On the funny side, Mark Twain said, “The lack of money is the root of all evil.” And maybe he is right. The pursuit of money is not a bad thing. How you pursue it is the issue.

Now let’s take a look at power.

There are people I know who think power is the most important “success ingredient” to achieve because money comes hand in hand with it.

Again, money is moral neutral as you can use it for good or for personal gain. Power can come either in a political form or simple influence. It is fine as long as you use it for the good and it delivers happiness. This can already make you feel “successful”.

And then some people equate success with happiness and their concept of happiness is closely associated with pleasure. Happiness is so elusive. Happiness could not be pursued because it is simply a byproduct of living a godly life.

How about relationships?

We are not designed to live in isolation. We are constantly involved in relationships, whether superficial or intimate. Unhealthy relationships zap our energy as these relationships really make our emotions go haywire.

What about health? What about our relationship with God? A vibrant relationship with God is something that every happy person I know has.

Is this success? Which one is it? Just like the answer to a student’s favorite type of quiz, the answer is “all of the above.” Success should be holistic.

The thing with success is that you don’t really arrive at success. You wrestle with it, you spar with it. Sometimes, you get it. Many times, you don’t so you continue.

Rather than thinking about success, think about progress.

Personal growth should be intentional.

We continue to achieve growth in every area: finance, health, influence, accomplishments and relationships. Here is the key, be a channel of blessings to others, serve and help others succeed. This is when happiness comes and a sense of meaning permeates the entire being.

True success deals with all areas of your life and the life that goes beyond this one in this planet. The Scriptures say, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” Nothing, DUH!

(Spend two life-transforming days with Francis Kong learning leadership and life skills as he present Level Up Leadership on March 17-18 at EDSA Shangri-La Hotel. For further inquiries, contact Inspire at 09158055910 or call 632-6310912 for details.)

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