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It does not come in cans

Updated on November 12, 2009

Success – that elusive dream that everybody want!  In a highly competitive world we live today, we all aspire to gain a defining moment that may bring us to the top, then when get to the apex of our aspirations, what?  It’s noteworthy to think that we are all destined to occupy a significant place in this world, no matter what our individual circumstances are.  At least that’s how I see it.  Why?  Because there is only one ‘you’ – that must be something!  Even if you’re cloned with an exact replica, you’re still unique because clones are just that – clones.  They lack the ‘content’ that makes us distinct – and therefore important!  So, you have an important role to play and only can play it well.  Unfortunately, not all can see it that way.  Instead, there are those who think that they always knew better.  There are those who try to do what they think is best for others, depriving the chance the very ones they thought they are serving.  In some instances, it could apply – but most of the time, it doesn’t.  That is why we always run into conflict with others no matter what we do or how good our intentions be.  What does that do with success?  Much in many ways, because our actions often have a ripple effect on others especially when we do an irrational thing.  That also can show another side of the coin, because what may be irrational to one could be perfectly acceptable to another.  My point is, even though we do not see things with same set of eyes, we still can have personal success in our lives.  I think – success is when you can feel comfortable with a sustained joy in your heart despite the conflicts around you.  That does not have to do with money or fame or affluence.  It is more on the internality experience a person has.  It is more on the positive perception expressed in daily living irrespective of negative environment, whatever.

Someone defined success this way – “Success is the freedom to be who you are”  Perhaps this definition is fair enough considering that in general, success is almost always equated with having money or fame, or both. That is the problem.  This is what we have been programmed to think and it’s only on-sided at best.  Thanks to the institutions who inculcated in us this mind-set, at school, the media and various social establishments which to this very day these same systems attests that it is flawed or even incoherent.  But let me validate the phrase ‘freedom to be who you are’ - to be taken within the context of morality not with absolute freedom as anyone with a debased mind can imagine, because absolute freedom doesn’t exist, and it doesn’t work either.  Man, with its imperfections has to be governed with laws (i.e. moral, spiritual as much as physical) to be functionally normal as a human being.  Without it – chaos is assured.  History repeats itself many times so there seem to be an incessant need to learn from them over again, and these happened because some men chose to ignore the basic laws of nature.  Restrictive freedom is a more appropriate word – that means being free to be yourself within the bounds of civility, with such expression that does not violate moral standards.  There is where we need to see the balance between defining our success and expressing the same within the parameters of human values.  Not simply being totally free to what you are.  I also think this can only be applied to people who have a clear understanding of who they are in every social setting.  This made me conclude that – we need to look deeper into ourselves and ask how am I contributing to the overall good?  Do I find myself caged in the mind-set of the system, or am I free to think what should I become?  Do I know I am free to be who I am?  Look around and you may find that you are not really free to be what you want to be.  There are always restrictions.  The sad part is – the very institutions that are designed to help us define freedom for ourselves are the very ones that restrict us.  As long as we conform to the prescribed norms – we were made to believe we are free, but that is not the case.  The more we go with the social system, the more we are bound to its rules, and that is not freedom in the real sense of the word.  We became slaves to our own system no matter what country or race we belong – it’s the same story only expressed in different ways.  Maybe, just maybe – it is a lot better if we just focus on a healthier respect to our differences.  Instead of gauging success in relation to one’s social status, wouldn’t be better to just look at the satisfaction rate each person has?  For sure some are happy with the perks of life while some felt content with the basics but as long as there is enjoyment on either side – that could be success?

One thing that perhaps can help carve our own success is by being considerate for other people’s mistakes.  Often, these are unintentional.  If a wrong is pre-meditated, then it’s no longer a mistake but a sin – plain and simple. George Washington Carver once said, "How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and the strong. Because someday in life you will have been all of these."  Amen to that.

Yet another is – to validate the innate talent each person has.  Acknowledging other people’s gifts in life is synonymous to giving them due respect and significance in their being.  For example, in our current system – we only look to the ‘gifted’ people as those possessing exceptional ability in math, literature, science, or known arts.  That is taught right from the start in our schools.  It’s not fair because it does not teach and encourage other innate gifts any child may have, thereby quashing the very chance that such gift/s may be developed.  We know that there are lots of art forms and only few are encouraged at school. Excellence on sports is a gift too, so does friendliness or effective communication. A natural peace-keeper is a communicator who understands conflicts and this is not taught at school.  We all want to talk but we don’t communicate.  We rate people by their social class, which originated from schools attended and further reinforced by most organizations after school.  But isn’t worth noting that a lot of academes who made good at school are failures in real life?  Take an advise from an educator of a Yale University President some years ago gave;  "Always be kind to your A and B students. Someday one of them will return to your campus as a good professor. And also be kind to your C students. Someday one of them will return and build a two-million dollar science laboratory."  Well-said professor! 

Knowing that the grading system is not multi-faceted, this professor knew that there are other talents or gifts that are not encouraged at school – and that stands true to most of our current educational system.  We can see the products of that with the way we govern our lives.  Can you relate to that?  But if we see other people as equally gifted, albeit differently then we can also elevate them to a higher esteem, just as much we do to the famous of today.  That is boosting other talents other than those recognized by the current social system.  You see, success – though individual in form, comes only with active involvement with other people.  With that – there is always a price to pay.  After all, we struggle so much just to be happy, we do all sorts of things just to remain that way, and if you can live a sustained joy even in the presence of misery – to me that is success!  Peace beyond comprehension – that I found in trusting God.  Then enjoy every moment every day! What about you?

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