“I’ve concluded that the metric by which God will assess my life isn’t dollars but the individual people whose lives I’ve touched. I think that’s the way it will work for us all. Don’t worry about the level of individual prominence you have achieved; worry about the individuals you have helped become better people.”
The people who radiate a permanent joy have given themselves over to lives of deep and loving commitment. Giving has become their nature, and little by little they have made their souls incandescent. There’s always something flowing out of the interiority of our spirit. For some people it’s mostly fear or insecurity. For the people we call joyful, it’s mostly gratitude, delight, and kindness.
-David Brooks, The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life
(Hat Tip: Anderson Layman)
Words can wound, but they seldom heal; it’s silence that more often heals or restores us.
Nothing fails like success. We gain success by doing what works for us. We do more of what works for us, until it doesn’t.
And then, the very thing that contributed to our success becomes the reason of our failure.
This happens because to often, we become prisoners of our own experiences. Because we find it difficult to step out of our limited viewpoints formed through finite experiences.
To avoid this, we need an ability to think critically, map our lessons to the context in which we currently exist and learn in an iterative way.
We need to belong to a community of people who can challenge our thinking. We need to contribute to this community. We need a mindset of an explorer who is ready to uncover and deal with the uncertain next.
Then we can build on our success rather than being imprisoned by it.
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And here is another perspective to consider.
We stand a chance to fail only when we have succeeded. So, if you are successful by external metrics (title, position, authority, material success etc) then do know that you may fail at some point. What goes up invariably will see a downfall.
How do we deal with a downfall after we have succeeded in the eyes of other people?
First and foremost, it is best not to be driven by or attached with external measures of success. Money, titles, authority are merely by-products of being who you truly are. When your doing stems from your being and feeds your joy, you will associate success with inner well-being rather than external measures.
Second is to work in your inner calm. We get too excited when we taste success and too dejected when we experience set backs. But most wise people I know have worked at building their inner state where they handle life situations with equanimity.
If we do this, we won’t really fail when we fail, but instead use it as an opportunity to step up further.
Nothing fails like success.
Happiness in this world, when it comes, comes incidentally. Make it the object of pursuit, and it leads us a wild-goose chase, and is never attained. Follow some other object, and very possibly we may find that we have caught happiness, without dreaming of it; but likely enough it is gone the moment we say to ourselves, “Here it is!” like the chest of gold that treasure-seekers find.
– Nathaniel Hawthorne
“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”
— Robert Heinlein, Time Enough for Love