Rule #1 of Being Successful: Define Success for Yourself

Ken Kayse

Read on and you will find out exactly how simple it is--if you follow the rule.

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No one is born a failure — absolutely no one. Every one of us has a certain degree of success in us. From birth, we are successful when we take our first breath, roll over by ourselves the very first time, learn to crawl, and then walk.

Those little successes are the building blocks that will help us attain greater successes as we go through school, participate in sports, and gain experience in performing tasks assigned to us. Indeed, success is everywhere within our spirit.

In our early school years, throughout high school, and on into our college years, we are constantly reminded that if we don’t succeed, we fail. We are taught that failure is not an option. That prompts us to do our very best so that we can be successful people.

We don’t always recognize, however, that even in our failures we will have some level of success. For instance, in taking a test any teacher gives us, there may be constraints — such as a time limit to complete the test — our knowledge may be perfect, but we may miss the deadline for showing the results of our work and thus fail.

The fact that we weren’t able to complete the test in a timely manner was the condition we failed to meet, not the knowledge we put down on the test paper.

In this regard, many of us never realize that our failure was also a success. It becomes imperative that we find the flaws in our knowledge, instead of trying to find ways to improve our speed. When we find those ways to improve that area, our knowledge doesn’t change, yet we know the next time we are asked to take a test, we will be better equipped to ensure success.

Follow the rule.

That’s easy to say, but which rule?

If you ask the Internet, you can find thousands of answers offering the rules of success. I know, because I asked! Let me give you some free advice, yours to use or not use as you see fit.

Free Advice: If you are serious about wanting to be a success, don’t let someone else tell you the rules.

Now, that isn’t the rule you should follow for success. It may be part of the answer, but there is no one particular rule that will lead you to success if you follow the path, at least, none that I have found.

That’s the beauty of success, we get to define it for ourselves.

What works for me may not work for you or might be impossible for you to achieve, complete, or finish, or even attempt. We all have limitations that will prevent us from attaining a higher level of success.

As an example, what kid hasn’t dreamed about playing baseball in the big leagues? Millions of kids join a Little League team year in and year out. Less than one percent of them will ever fulfill their dream.

How we define success determines the level of success we achieve from one day to the next. Here’s an example of what I’m saying:

I have a friend who was confined to the hospital with a debilitating disease called sarcoidosis. It’s a very serious lung disease that, as it spreads farther into the lungs, severely hindered his ability to take slow deep breaths. His breaths were panting, much like those of a dog.

Before he became severely ill with the disease, he would tell me about the small successes he had achieved that day — how he got out of bed on his own, or he sat in the chair for half an hour, or how his breathing treatment gave him more significant relief than the previous day.

He was counting all of these successes to show me and to tell himself he was making progress at getting better. Even the day the ambulance came to his house and took him to the hospital, he told me he was only going to be in there for two days, max.

His attitude was optimistic and courageous. His reality became quite harsh when the doctors told him all they could offer at this stage of the disease was palliative care.

“Perception is merely a lens or mindset from which we view people, events, and things. Perception molds, shapes, and influences our experience of our personal reality.” Dr. Linda Humphries PhD

Ultimately, my friend died of this disease. He never made it out of the hospital and back to his home, where he wanted to be with his wife and kids. He spent the last 67 days of his life knowing that he was dying, and he was unable to do anything about it.

At his funeral, his doctor attended the service. After it had ended, he told me that my friend had been successful in fighting the disease for such a long period of time. He said he had thought that, after he was admitted to the hospital, it would be a matter of hours before he would succumb to the disease.

As soon as the doctor told us those were his thoughts, it showed me how my friend was very successful at fighting sarcoidosis, even unto his death. He never gave up. He was never worried about work, or retirement, or any other worldly concern other than getting better. I have often wondered if he thought he was successful.

Success isn’t defined by money, power, or fame, we all know that. Some of us attain all three of those and are still not successful at living the life we want. You may be successful in those three areas of life, but not have a happy life.

Perhaps you never got around to getting married, or having children, or going on an exotic trip, or helping the poor and needy — maybe that’s what success is, you think.

Your perception of success is the only thing that matters in this discussion. Linda Humphreys, PhD, a psychologist and life, relationship, and spirituality coach says, “Perception is merely a lens or mindset from which we view people, events, and things. Perception molds, shapes, and influences our experience of our personal reality.”

I heartily agree with her assessment. My perception, my version of “success” is all that matters as I live my life. There will be plenty of people who will tell me my version isn’t good enough, that they want more. I refuse to listen to people who think like this because they are not living my life and I am not living theirs.

There is at least one byproduct of defining your own sense of success — you get to make all the rules. As I started this conversation, I gave some free advice:

“If you are serious about wanting to be a success, don’t let someone else tell you the rules.”

I will end this for now with another piece of free advice:

Trust Yourself!

Thanks for reading this

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Being a "Lefty," my writing tends to lean a little to the left, but I consider myself an Independent--I'm willing to listen to all sides. Writing gives me a chance to gather my thoughts. All my life I have been a glass-half-full believer.

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