Definition of success
BUSINESS MATTERS (BEYOND THE BOTTOM LINE) - Francis J. Kong (The Philippine Star) - August 29, 2020 - 12:00am

Success. How does one define it?

The Random House Webster’s college dictionary says that: “Success is the favorable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavors.” It is the attainment of wealth, position, honors, or the like. Somehow this doesn’t compute. It gives a tone of finality, like the end of a movie. But life continues and it doesn’t end with a “...and they lived happily ever after” thingy.

Perhaps the words “termination of attempts” or the “acquisition of things” do not compute because Success goes beyond any given time frame. Others define success in ways associated with their personal experiences.

* US playwright Lillian Hellman says: “Success isn’t everything, but it makes a man stand straight.” She equates success with pride and dignity.

* Businessman John D. Rockefeller Jr. says, “The secret of success if to do the common things uncommonly well.” This outstanding figure associate success with excellence.

* German-born US scientist Albert Einstein says this: “If A is a success in life, then A equals x plus y plus z. Work is x; y is playing, and z is keeping your mouth shut.” Einstein equates success with behavior in life.

* Spanish artist Pablo Picasso says: “If you are a genius and unsuccessful, everybody treats you as if you were a genius, but when you come to be successful, when you commence earning money, when you are really successful, then your family and everybody no longer treats you like a genius, they treat you like a man who has become successful.” And so the great Picasso associates success as ingenuity with money earning capability.

* US journalist and broadcaster Barbara Walters observed that “Success can make you go one of two ways. It can make you a prima donna, or it can smooth the edges, remove the insecurities, and let the nice things come out.” This famous media person believes that success can bring out confidence in the person and refine his or her rough edges. She equates success with a sense of confidence based on competence.

* Singer and actress Barbra Streisand says: “Success to me is having ten honeydew melons, and eating only the top half of each one.” She means the small pleasures in life.

* A wise guy says that success is defined as luck if it happens to other people. But when it happens to you, it’s persistence, hard work, ingenuity, and perspiration.

Here is the thing. Success doesn’t take a straight line, there often are many twists, turns, and bumps along the way. Life can change in an instant and what is most important one day could change by the next.

Many bright, gifted, and talented entrepreneurs have finally discovered their “Why” during pre-COVID days, they left their lucrative and high-paying corporate jobs to set out for their future. And then COVID-19 happens. They are now forced to close their business just when they have barely started and do not know “Why!” Does this mean they are failures? Far from it.

Seasoned entrepreneurs know that success is far from reaching a “termination of attempts in attaining one’s goals.” Success is growing the business when the conditions are favorable and bouncing back after experiencing challenges and adversities.

Today there is a profusion of “new-age, cheesy unrealistic motivational cliché’s” that teach people to “find their inner joy” during the pandemic. While the intention is well-meaning in their attempt to achieve optimism and hope, this might only lead to more frustrations and disappointments. What is essential is to understand that success and failure belong to the same equation. There are the twists and turns of life. There are seasons when you have to accept the events happening that are beyond your control. You roll with the punch—taking what comes your way yet not losing hope knowing that the tides would turn, and you prepare for the opportunities that lie ahead when the situation settles.

Therefore the right frame of thinking is not achieving “success” but to attain progress. That even amid challenging times, the learning, the experience, the observation, the coping, the sticking close to values, ethics and right conduct -- in other words, the development of the personal character are all elements in achieving progress that prepares one for future opportunities when the tide turns.

One more thing, I came across an article about Harvard Researchers that conducted a 79-year-old study tracking the lives of 724 men all the years of their development and concluded that the secret sauce behind their considered “Happiness and Success” is close relationships.

This is the time when the people in our lives should support each other and deepen the relationship. This is not the time for blame and resentment but for support and understanding. Meanwhile, this situation will pass but we prepare ourselves for the opportunities that lie ahead once the tide has turned.

(Attend the live webinar on this Sept. 14 at 7:30 p.m. Francis Kong will host, and Pastor Chad Williams of Union Church of Manila will speak on “Finding Strength in The Small Things”)

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