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Letters on Tuesdays – Defining Success

Image used cause my friend, pictured above, is a very successful man. I am sure you remember him.

Dear Wilton,

Last week I wrote about failure and accepting failure. In light of the previous discussion, it would make sense to discuss success. Yet, I do not believe we ever talked about how you defined success or what you saw as success. I remember when I was your age, thirteen years ago, I believed that success consisted of a few things: the best grades in class, the most friends, and the most athletic. Some of my friends, if they knew what I thought, would probably laugh at how absurdly unsuccessful I was and, to be honest, I am chuckling to myself right now at how absurd  my definition of success was. Yet, this might very well be how you are seeing success right now: getting that A in class, getting into that boarding school.

You see, like failure with its internal and external components, success can either be defined by you or by people other than you. Many times when we see success, such as having good grades, going to a good school, or having a good job, it is defined by others. For most of our early life, success is defined by others and usually by our parents. There is nothing wrong with that, as there is nothing wrong with defining success with accomplishments. As I found out, these small “successes” create the foundation for me to build a bigger, more lasting, and more personal idea of success. It is important to eventually personally define a lasting success to pursue.

Knowing you, you are probably asking why at this point. The answer is because formulating a personal brand of success will allow you to become happier, more productive, and even more successful. It is very much contingent to finding who you are and what you love to do – which is based on you achieving the small “successes”. In fact, I would equate success to exact that: finding yourself and your passion. By doing so, you will find the foundation of success from which you will find snowballing into a life full of the successes defined by others and by accomplishments.

If you do not develop that personal foundation of success, it is still possible to lead a happy and successful life. Yet, I would dare to venture that it is more unlikely. You become bound and defined by others and their opinions, which is ever-changing. To keep up with changing trends will fatigue you as you constantly reinvent yourself. I am sure you are now old enough to see that. For example, twenty years ago, being successful for our parents might more likely mean becoming a doctor or a professor. Today, our generation might more likely define success as pursuing a career in what you love doing. Tomorrow, who knows what success will mean? Perhaps it is becoming the human ambassador to space-faring alien civilizations.

Which is why, to me, it is important to develop a personal foundation of success after you learn from the success, as defined by others, that you achieve. When you discover and accept who you are, you find yourself more confident. That confidence allows you to grow your abilities and to attract people. You will find that to become successful in life, it depends on your abilities and quality people you are able to connect with. This is why I equate true success to finding who you are and what you love to do. No matter what happens you always have that foundation of success to fall back on. You can always draw on that confidence from knowing who you are and that confidence in your abilities.

With love,

Your Brother

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