What do you think is the key item that enables you to become successful in your own world? Is it intelligence, planning, hard work or relationships?
Let’s look at what success means. The Oxford Languages defines success as the accomplishment of an aim or purpose, the good or bad outcome of an undertaking. I think each of us might see success in our own way and, as a result, make daily choices that determine the direction of our lives.
For example, one of my dad’s most important goals was to let his lifestyle be an example of how a Christian husband, father, businessperson, employee, friend and elected official interacted with others. His idea of success was not how many toys he could purchase, whether he had the newest car or truck, what subdivision he lived in or where he sent his kids to school. If these physical items came as he was focused on his primary goal, they were seen as add-ons.
I admit that my vision of success was not like my father’s when my brother Eddie and I started marketing our business, Tidewater Landscape Management. People, like businesses, evolve over the years, as do their goals. When we were growing our business, I saw success as coming in one form: monetary.
Initially, we did basic calculations about how much cash we needed to pay bills, employees and ourselves. We put all our accounts and billing on a monthly calendar. Then we added in our monthly expenses and saw what was left over. I know that’s probably not how a business like Wal-Mart or Parker’s started out, but it worked for us. If we needed more revenue to cover our bills, we knocked on doors to solicit new business. We provided our services for whatever it took to cover expenses. Prospective clients would look at us and comment about our being a little sweaty and dirty for a meeting. We told them that we were the guys cutting the grass next door, and our opening to meet with them was during lunchtime.
Success can become your worst enemy, though, when it’s defined only in terms of monetary value. That’s the point where you start collecting toys and feeling that you owe yourself these things because of all the time, energy and effort you put into being able to afford them. Although that may be true, focusing on success as measured by money has the potential for heavy blowback to yourself and others. I’ve seen and experienced it.
Years later, I now define success in terms of the quality of my relationships. I believe we were put on this earth to have relationships with other people and to build on them. And I think COVID- 19 has proven to us how important human interaction and connection are. Unfortunately, the lack of them can be seen in the emotional and mental challenges that have increased worldwide during the pandemic. Many people have fallen into a darkness they are not able to cope with.
I believe the solution can be found in each of us reexamining what success means to us individually. When it lies in people, and relationships, we make a difference for ourselves and each other. Reach out, connect and touch someone else’s life — maybe the lives of many others. Our actions have a ripple effect that can change the world.
My definition of success is now aligned more with what my dad focused on. In my faith as a Christian, I turn to my savior and he guides my success as a husband, father, businessperson, employee and friend.
So, what does success mean to you?