Daily we are inundated with information about what we should be, should do, should wear, and should have in order to be successful. Our children are especially vulnerable to the power of the media and the ever-advancing speed of technology in influencing their perceptions of what defines success. What does it mean to be successful? How do you define success? Is success defined as power, wealth and fame or can it be defined as balance, contentment and peace of mind, or both? Are our daily actions supporting the achievement of what it means for us as individuals to be successful? Does our definition of success reinforce and compliment the personal and professional values that we believe in? These are observations and questions that should be reflected on, and answered for each of us.
Over the centuries many prominent figures have contributed to the understanding of what it means to be successful. To highlight a few, Ralph Waldo Emerson said, Self-Trust is the first secret to success. Booker T. Washington said, I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed. John D. Rockefeller, Jr. stated, The secret to success is to do the common things uncommonly well., and Mark Twain declared, Let us be thankful for fools. But for them the rest of us could not succeed.
The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language defines success as, “The achievement of something desired, planned or attempted.” Notice that the definition provides no ethical code to what is desired, planned or attempted, leaving the door open for much interpretation and discussion. Personally, I believe defining success in ones life is significantly more substantial then this generic dictionary version. One of the best definitions of success that I ever received was during a “No Excuse!” seminar training session that I conducted for the United States Postal Service in Queens, NY. A gentleman stated that his definition of success was, “Eager to go to work and eager to go back home.” I thought to myself that is perfect, because that is life balance in a wonderful way. To be equally energized and excited to participate in our profession and our family is a balance we all should strive for.
So where does “Dining” for Success come into play? My homework assignment is for you to take time at the dinner table tonight and discuss as a couple, or a family, what success means. For those who have children ask the young ones, “How do they define success?” Do you think a six year old might have a different answer than a sixteen year old? As a result, another door will open for parent participation to discuss the areas of success that you might feel to be important for them to understand.
If ones idea of success is wealth, fame, power, prestige and they achieve it, and it is truly a reflection of what they want and who they are, they are successful. On the other hand, if ones idea of success is a happy family, a profession they enjoy, a community they love, a place of worship where they feel free to worship, to own their own home and they achieve that; are they not just as successful as what society might put on the pedestal? Of course they are, because it is a reflection of who they are, and what they want to be. Over time, I have discovered that true success is the sum of achievement, plus personal honesty. Achieving without compromising our character and core values in the process of that achievement is true success.