Contemplation on Success

Today we have a guest post written by my good friend, Dario. Let us take a look at someone else’s take on success. I really enjoy and appreciate his thoughts below, and I thank him for allowing me to share with everyone.

I do not know when the word success become so annoying to me and its commonly accepted meaning somehow bothersome. The dictionary defines it as:

“The achievement of something desired, planned, or attempted.”

So I asked myself what is the ultimate goal of any human being? What is the ultimate desire? The greatest of the achievable plans? Is it to become famous? To become rich? To be so popular that everyone knows your name, where you live, what you do? To invent or discover something important, may be? To be recognized in a field of work? To make history? To possess a big house and expensive cars?

To me, it’s none of this. Yes of course, they are important aspects of a life — milestones if you want — of a person’s path. Yet I think they are no more than mere aspects… fragments… not the essence.

If anyone would look at some examples of these so called “successful” individuals, you cannot help but wonder: How many of them are really happy? How many of them fell into the excesses of drugs and alcohol? How many of them divorced and were forced to leave their sons and daughters? How many of them devoted so much effort into their ambitions but forgot the vows they made? How many become unhealthy, or were killed, or killed themselves because of what was carried in their achievements?

During a conversation with a friend once, it was said “It is not true that all jobs are of equal importance. How can you compare Einstein to a bar attender?” In the moment, I could not elaborate an answer. Now I can.

Yes, it is absolutely true that Einstein’s discoveries changed the face of the world and the law of physics… so then how to say no to the question? They allowed advances unfathomable before his time… yes of course….but would you say that such is the epitome of a successful human being? Is he what we should all aspire to be? It is what we should give to the world?

Well, my humble suggestion is “pay attention”… and think again. One of the implications of his theory of relativity was the base for the development of the atomic bomb. One of the most devastating weapons the human race possesses. Thousand of people were killed by it. Countless creatures in the oceans and in the air. Millions risked their life for decades in the years of the cold war. Hundreds of nuclear tests conducted in the once pristine, heavenly environments now inhabitable. Other hundred of test conducted in the atmosphere, contaminating the air we all breath. The Cuba missile crisis in 1962 brought us to the brink of a third world war that, in the nuclear age, most accepted as the “last human war” — the sure end of the human race. Is that my inspiration? Is that the kind of responsibility I want my soul to bear just to be remembered, or to be famous, or to be rich, or to be successful? I’d rather serve your pina colada.

So what about Einstein life? Was he an happy man?

His parents never accepted his wife. She was defined by them as “too old” and their prejudice against her never faded. You can read the pain carried in those comments. They called the person he loved “physically defective” . The very people that should have embraced her with open arms in their life. He had a daughter in 1902 before being married, whose fate is unknnown. He had 3 children with his first wife Mileva, yet they divorced. They divorced after years of cold, emotionless relationship followed by 5 years of separation. Einstein has been defined as socially inept with restricted patterns of behavior. Yes, we are talking about the greatest mind of our time… hopelessly imperfect. So is this our model? Should these be our highest aspirations?

So what is the essence of success you may ask.

The answer lies in the spirit of those people whose life we touched. Ultimately — for me — success is about being strong, walking tall with my head up. No regrets, no remorse. My goal is to make proud of those who really know me. Those who are able to see the person I became. Those who can appreciate what I gave, the things I stood for, and admire what I accomplished — not as a member of this society — but as human being.

While few of us will be remembered “forever”… most of us… even the most “successful” will disappear in the mist of time. What will be left? What is going to be your legacy then? What do we want to be remembered for? I don’t see the answer to those questions in the amount of money I have accumulated, nor the size of my house, neither in how many fancy car I owned. I cannot see it in the number of awards I received, nor the things I invented or how many patents I filed. I will consider myself successful by the number of people that love me. From the respect that is showed to me from my peers. From the gratitude of the people whose life I changed for the better.

The essence of success to me is being happy. To be able to enjoy life. Embrace what was given and to give without reserves. Success as in becoming a compassionate human being that think and act with kindness, with a pure heart. That to me is success … that to me is the essence of life.

2 Responses to “Contemplation on Success

  • 1
    rob
    July 29th, 2008 07:36

    I remember in the book ‘Happier’ by Tal Ben-Shahar, he wrote that happiness is the ultimate currency.

    The funny thing is that intuitively, what we all really want is to be happy, yet we do a lot of things that don’t have much meaning and value to us, mostly due to peer pressure, and chasing after “success”, the money+power version of it.

    A few years back, I had a theory about what success is. That those with the most time are the most successful, as time is the most finite resource in the world. If you have the free time to pursue things that are most meaningful to you, then you are successful. When you run out of time, or if you use up all your time on things that are inconsequential or unimportant, that is not success.

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