What does it take to be successful? This is a question that can be asked regarding individuals, companies or countries. Are you in charge of your destiny or is someone else? That makes a big difference in whether the formula for success applies to you doesn’t it. Ford’s formula for success is to have award winning vehicles that outsell the competition. That brings more money into the corporation, and makes the stock holders happy. The price of the stock goes up and everything’s right with the world! Unless, of course, you don’t own Ford or any of its stock. If you’re an employee of Ford, you are a Labor Expense. What does it take for YOU to be successful? How do you know? You have to have some sort of definition of success. Is it the ability to stop working when you “retire” from your job? Is it a big house and a boat and a car? Is it fame and fortune? Is it a legacy of good deeds and foundations and grants to worthy causes? What is your definition of success? What if success isn’t a destination but a journey? What if the measure is the distance and the experiences along the way? What if your success is the difference between you at the end of your journey and you at the beginning?
This is what it would look like for me: I considered myself successful if I could tie my shoes by myself. I participated in my 1st recital when I was 2. I had hip dysplasia, so being able to walk was a legitimate goal. (It later became the ability to walk without pain.) I made about $0.75/hour babysitting, and $2.50/hour as the secretary for the band camp. So I have a physical starting point and a money-earning starting point.
How far have I advanced from there?
- I can tie my shoes, but I have to tie them before I put them on.
- I play not only piano, but every other instrument as well and sing. I have been teaching music for 49 years now.
- I had one hip replaced, but it has been broken twice since then. I can still walk, though with a limp. Along this route, I did take ballet/tap/jazz lessons as a child, and then as an adult, I taught ballet/tap and jazz in my own studio. After the hip replacement, I could no longer continue as a dance instructor.
- I got 2 bachelors degrees: 1 in Music Education and 1 in Business Administration with emphasis in accounting
- I have had approximately 25 jobs, and have been fired from 19 of them
- I got married and had 5 kids–none of them serial killers as yet
- I have taught on the private level, in public schools and on the college level every type of class from English composition to Physics, from Music to Physical Education, from Kindergarten to college level Calculus
- I am also licensed in life/health insurance and am an Investment Adviser Representative
- I have learned to speak or read 5 languages
- I have traveled to 48 states and 7 countries
- I am a Division Director for District 24 Toastmasters
- I will be a certified speaker and coach for John Maxwell
- I have sung in a 600 voice choir at St. Michael’s Cathedral in Coventry, UK , at the Casino in Bern, Switzerland, and at St. Paul’s Outside the Walls in Rome under the direction of Sir David Wilcox and Sir Paul Leddington Wright.
- I make anywhere from $30/hr to $600/hr depending on the client (and no I don’t stand on street corners…)
- I have collaborated on 2 books that have been published
So am I a success? I surely don’t feel like it, but this was the life I designed based on my areas of interest and my passion for learning and doing new things. I am responsible for the state I now find myself. I have the impression that I am preparing for something that requires those experiences and areas of expertise. I have no clue what it is. When I went to my brother’s memorial, there were many many people there that told what a wonderful person he was: a patient, kind, insightful teacher whose influence would be felt for generations. My younger brother and I looked at each other and marveled thinking, “Are we at the right memorial service?” I fear having a funeral where the preacher and whatever relatives aren’t dead yet and didn’t have something scheduled that day are in attendance. They most likely would be playing games on their phones and checking Facebook during the service. And the Eulogy would go something like this, “Rebecca– she was the goofy one with the red hair, right? Yah, that’s her in the box,” and some Toastmaster grammarian would mutter under his breath, “That’s SHE…”