As one gets older and sees the finish line stretched before him/her, at least I do. One may look back on his or her life and the experiences that he or she had during this so very brief a period of time. One might take an inventory of time spent. After all, I believe it is quite normal for an individual to have the desire to at least make the attempt to know if his or her time spent on this rock called Earth had any meaning or purpose. If it did how was that purpose served.
As I see it a success is a rating of accomplishment, but what accomplishments, and who is it that sets the standards. It is most common of myself that when I ask myself such a question as what is important and what is not important that I first must define the matter itself.. Today, in common speech in the modern world that we now live in the definition of the word success is used most often to measure how prosperous one might be, what is the financial situation that he or she finds themselves in, how much power do they have, and one should not forget the word status for that is the measure of others to what you have attained as a successful person. Since profit is at the center of the American economic and social system this should be of no surprise. I see nothing wrong with profit, yet should it be the backbone of who one is, and how he/she thinks of themselves , and others do as well.
Success is simply stated as the favorable outcome of something attempted. This simply means that failure is an unfavorable outcome. This to me allows me to reach for the base of the solution taking my true inventory by eliminating the factors of status as well as ego from my scale of judging what is a successful life. I have never been interested in status. I believe one must be true to one’s self. By that I mean not in a selfish manner, but true to his or her values. This is where ego shows its head.
Now here I believe that I should explain further the above statement concerning how I see and value status, and how ego comes into the picture. Have I become someone other than who my inner self is in order to feel that my life spent was a success?. So I will leave the sums of the total at the bottom of the inventory page to Time. I do believe that Time is infinite, so I will just have to continue growing. I feel that I must do this for very personal reasons. It took me years to control my ego, and perhaps that only came about when I got out of the rat race and grew older. I see ego as what one sees himself or herself as, and status how the outside world may see you. I had a big ego which too often became out of control, leading me to make unwise and unhappy decisions. This was because I too often thought foolishly that I had to prove to myself that some way or other I was up to the task. I did desire others to care for me, however, I didn’t want them to do so for what the world might see me as instead of who I was, and what my values were. I see this problem too often in the present political world. Too many good intending individuals who’s ideals are quite high will compromise because of status. Hence forth become failures to their ideals. You might say that they as far as I see the situation fail to succeed while perhaps gaining status.
I have during my lifetime attempted to hold to my ideals right or wrong. Over time I did learn that the key to me being successful was when I was able to reverse my ideals as I became more knowledgeable and wiser pertaining to what I believed in. It was not that I gave up on my beliefs, it was that life had taught me to be a bit smarter. What this in simple terms meant was letting up on my ego. There is nothing wrong with taking a different path if one finds the new path a better means of travel. One must understand that life is a continual journey. My very wise mother use to use a word picture saying to me; “Ira hold to your beliefs without being too “stiff necked.” Many times I was too “stiff necked” and brought failure on to myself, or at least a unfavorable outcome to my attempts. Looking at those situations today I do believe that it was my false state of ego that won out and brought about the failure. If I had truly just held to my ideals I would in my mind succeeded even if the outcome brought me less status. Which would have been fine with me.
Now life is not so black and white that even at an older age and being removed from the rat race one is able to completely understand what it has brought to one’s self in the form of successes and failures. Today, as I go within myself, I muse over the idea that perhaps what has been most important to me I have seemed to fail at. To me always most important was to be the best son, brother, husband and father, and I might add a good friend. I do believe that I succeeded in being a good son and brother, but as I now evaluate myself as a husband and father the circumstances that life has brought to me by their outcomes seem to say Ira you have failed at what was most important to you. So you are a failure.
Being the best husband and father was not something that I read in a book, or was told to be by another. Perhaps the simplest way to express my thinking is to tell a little tale. Yes, that is what I usually do. My family and myself were living in the Dallas area of Texas. Shortly before this tale took place I had lost all our funds in a business venture, I saw this as a set back, and did not see myself as a failure. I needed a position badly, and thought that by gaining the right situation, I would able to in a short time raise enough funds for our family to be economically stable once more. An insurance company hired me as a salesman. This insurance company had hired a large group of new prospective salespeople, and we were about to go through a weeks training. On our first day of training we were brought into a large room with a stage. On the stage sat the executives of the company that had just hired us. There were about fifty new sales people in this room all who wanted to make a good first impression. This could be easily seen.
As our training began the president of the company stood on the stage. He requested that each newly hired person stand, introduce themselves, and make a short statement about what was most important to them. Individual after individual stood, said their name and briefly patted themselves on the back informing all that they would be a most successful insurance salesperson because they saw the importance of the insurance business. When I stood I said; “ The most important thing to me is that I be the best husband and father that I could be.” I then sat down. I can still recall the strange looks that I received from those sitting, and those on the stage. I was asked a question so I thought I should give an honest answer. I intended to let the rest be proven by my actions as a insurance salesman. I did just that, however, as a husband and father in a few year outcomes were not as I thought they would be. Within ten years my marriage was broken, and what followed was that my children separated themselves from me. They at this moment have nothing to do with me, and care little about their father. Why they feel this way I do not know or understand. As I sit here writing this I am pleased to state that I am not a bitter man, and see more good than bad in the world. I must admit for whatever reason it is that I have failed at what was most important to me.
As stated before status is not important to me as a real measure of success. I know how I feel and think. I know how I live, and I know what my ideals are, so perhaps I am not the failure that I seem to be which I would be if I allowed the circumstances of life to change and control my beliefs making me into a person who is a failure. I still believe that being a good son, brother, husband and father are most important to me. Those beliefs have not changed, only the circumstances that surround them have. Life is still teaching me how to understand better and live in a meaningful manner. To me this is a life time of success.