Consider the person who volunteers at a local hospital to read to the elderly whose eyes can no longer perform the task. Is this person any less of a success than the professional ballplayer who scores the winning run as the most valuable player?
Think about the scientist who has dedicated her life to finding a cure for cancer. Is she considered a success only if she actually finds the cure? Do the hours and dedication she has put forth count only if the result is achieved? Is success measured only in the culmination, or is the commitment, the perseverance, and the pursuit valued as well?
What about the middle-age man who leaves his law practice to pursue his dream of carving and selling canoes? If his delight is in doing what makes him happy, is he any less prosperous than the celebrity who grosses $10 million per movie?
Success is amorphous, and like the other vast intangible--love--there is no universal means by which we can measure it. What it means for one person may not resonate for another. It may be the collective goal of many, but it ultimately has only one true judge. You, and only you, can assess your success, for it is you alone who determines what success really means for you.
THE DIFFERENT MODELS OF SUCCESS
Make sure you have--and preserve--your own set of eyes. --Laurie Beth Jones
Dana was in her thirties when she came to my workshop because she was experiencing what she called a "free-floating sense of dissatisfaction" with her job. She enjoyed the high-level position she held at a large computer company, but a small voice in her heart whispered to her that there was more. She had achieved each and every goal she had set before her, including promotions, raises, and even a much-coveted window office, yet she was not fulfilled.
As Dana talked, I picked up on phrases like "I should feel happy" and "I look successful but I feel like a failure." So I asked Dana point blank what would make her feel like a success. She paused for less than fifteen seconds before blurting out "being able to bring my dog to work."
It seems that Dana had always had a vision in her mind of being able to bring her beloved dog, Bodhi, with her to work. She had once visited a friend at her friend's small boutique advertising agency and was delighted to see the agency owner's schnauzer greeting clients at the door. To Dana, being able to bring her dog to work signified autonomy; it meant one of two things: Either she had climbed high enough on the corporate ladder that she was beyond policies, or she was running her own company where she could establish her own rules. Deciding between the two was not difficult for her, and Dana is now happily running her own web design business, with Bodhi snoozing contentedly under her desk.
Excerpted from If Success Is a Game, These Are the Rules by Cherie Carter-Scott Copyright© 2000 by Cherie Carter-Scott. Excerpted by permission of Broadway, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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