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The Jaded Eye
Defining Success
by Gerry Ayers
 

“A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him.” ~ David Brinkley
By definition, success can mean the attainment of popularity or profit. It can also mean the accomplishment of an aim or purpose. Obviously, success means different things to different people. 
For if you’ve been on a deathbed with last rites read and you shake it off and wake up each day, that’s success. If you grew up poor and managed to make fortunes in your lifetime, then that qualifies as success. So does raising your children to be solid, caring individuals. What else?
Let me throw you some quotes from successful people and see where we stand.
“Put your heart, mind and soul into even your smallest acts. This is the secret of success.” ~ Servani Sivanda 
This is a very hard thing to accomplish. We usually put the mundane tasks in life on “cruise control” and let it roll. I do not buy socks with fervor. I do not hug strangers on the street when passing them by. Trimming hedges is borderline time torture. But hey, if Servani says so, let’s give it a shot! We have nothing to lose and much to gain!
“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” ~ Thomas Edison
Wow. From the man who discovered how to harness electricity! I don’t know about this. I failed algebra and trigonometry numerous times at a young age and moved on to do some worthwhile things. I learned early not to spin wheels or beat a dead horse. When I give up, it’s only because I need to move onto something else I can fail at!
“All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence and then success is sure.” ~ Mark Twain
Well Mark, I’ve met with both ignorant people (as in uneducated or naive) and confident people (cocky zealots) and these traits seems to mix like oil and vinegar. Let me ask my readers: do you actually like mixing it up with stupid, arrogant people? But yes, I know what he is saying here. Be blind to criticism and believe in yourself and good things shall happen. 
“Success is where preparation and opportunity meet.” ~ Bobby Unser
I like Bobby and his brother Al, both Indy 500 champions. Met them both, sat in their cars! This winning combination of which he speaks makes sense in many ways. However, preparation may be the easy part; finding opportunity at your doorstep may be like finding the needle in the haystack!
“That man is a success who has lived well, laughed often, and loved much.” ~ Robert Louis Stevenson
Ah yes. Sounds as though Mr. Stevenson has rubbed elbows with Hugh Hefner on occasion. Did he lavish himself with wine, women and song? I can’t argue with this guy’s logic. And, is it like the rock group Dire Straights’ words of wisdom when they say, “My life makes perfect sense, lust and food and violence.” Same thinking, different time period and neighborhood. 
“Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success.” ~ Napoleon Hill
I think of my mother toiling tedious hours, on her knees, in the sweltering heat or gusty winds preparing her gardens and landscape. Stopping only long enough to wipe her brow and sip some water. Success to her was a beautiful display of flowers or stonework or a budding tree. Her personal satisfaction, in turn, made the world a better a looking place!
“Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.” ~ Bill Gates
Mr.Gates is the co-founder of Microsoft and his net worth is (take a very deep breath) $89 billion dollars. He donates money like we dole out Halloween candy. To me, that’s one definition of success — giving back once you’ve made it. Not forgetting the people you met on the way up, or the less fortunate who cannot attain what you have.
“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” ~ Winston Churchill
There is an emerging theme here amongst successful people. Don’t give up. Don’t give in. Either physically or mentally. Oh, I remember the grade school story of the Little Engine That Could. Chugging up steep hills till the mission was complete. Same type of thinking here. Except now it’s bullet trains. 
“Money won’t create success, the freedom to make it will.” ~ Nelson Mandala
Hmmm. Why does Dire Straights come to my demented mind again? Remember the 1980s MTV video where they proclaimed, “money for nothing and chicks for free.” Who was the real success story in that crazy video? The rock band or the blue collar guys peddling the refrigerators and TVs!
Alas, my favorite! Christopher Morley sums it up best, “There is only one success — to be able to spend your life in your own way.” 
Frank Sinatra said, “I did it my way.” Burger King said, “Have it your way.” And this humble writer, acknowledging he can’t sing, dance or do algebra spends his valuable time the only viable way he knows how.
On his own terms and in his own tunnel.

 
 
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