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The Quest for Success

Success.  What is it?  How is it measured?  How is it attained?  We spend our lives working, striving, seeking to be successful.  When success is achieved, is that the end, or merely a stepping stone leading us to more?

What is Success?

Success is different for everyone.  Defined as a “favorable outcome,” it is preceded by the desires of our heart.  We decide what we want in life and then strive with all our might to achieve it.  Persistence, patience, and lots of hard work are essential elements of success.

Success does not come without experiencing failure.  Lots of it.  When I was eight years old, I begged my parents to let me play the violin.  Anyone who has listened to a violin student practice will agree it takes years before he or she sounds pleasing to the ear.  Many beginners give up as the rewards of daily practice are not realized for a very long time.

When I entered high school, my persistence began to pay off.  I was the concertmistress for our orchestra and we had an active drama department.  I spent many hours in an orchestra pit accompanying the musicals our school performed, loving every moment.  On the university level, I auditioned and became a member of the Philharmonic Orchestra, gaining exposure to various genres of music with opportunities to perform for larger audiences.

Successful moments were finally awarded, but not before making countless mistakes.  I remember playing in recitals and being embarrassed by my performance.  Vowing I would never play the violin in public again, I eventually reconsidered and attempted one more time.  I can’t think of a solo performance that was free of mistakes, but I kept trying.  Fortunately, success shines brighter than the struggle to get there.  Today I embrace the joy I received from playing the violin while the memory of failures has faded.

“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”  Winston Churchill

Measuring Success

I love making lists.  At the end of a busy day, I check my list to find I can only cross off one or two items.  Was my day a waste, or did I achieve success through the back door?

We are the ones who measure our success.  I can refer to my list to determine if my day is successful, or I can count listening to a friend who needed me as a better use of time.  Sometimes we must see beyond the plan and take credit for the simple things.  Success isn’t always visible.

Another way we err is to measure our success using someone else’s ruler.  There are people who make success look easy, but we see the accomplishment, not the journey.  The only fair measurement comes from the person residing in our skin.  We are not in a race, we set the pace, and we determine the finish line.  Comparison breeds discouragement and low self-esteem.

We also become disheartened if we let others measure our success or lack of it.  We should never allow outside voices or opinions crush our dreams.  Keep believing.

“Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other.”  Abraham Lincoln (From the person who failed twice in business, had a nervous breakdown, and lost eight elections before becoming President of the United States.)

Don’t give up.  Someone said success is a journey, not a destination.  Once achieved, we can hardly sit and relax.  Successful people set another goal and keep pressing forward, knowing there will always be stumbling blocks to conquer.

“Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome.”  Booker T. Washington

Achieving Success

Determination and hard work are key components of success.  Both take motivation, a positive attitude, and belief in oneself.

Twenty-eight years after graduating from college, I decided to re-enter the classroom as an elementary school teacher.  My timing was not the best.  Two years of teaching experience would not amount to much when competing with the new crop of education majors.  I decreased my odds by choosing a year with more qualified candidates than job openings.

I decided to move forward with my plan in April.  Five months later I was preparing my first-grade classroom for the beginning of school.  How was that possible?

I believed I could do it.  And then I worked my head off.

Ideas change drastically over two and a half decades, so I dug in and studied the current philosophies and methods of education.  I read recent publications and textbooks and became familiar with new terms and practices.  Going on the Internet, I searched sample interview questions and prepared answers.  I was ready when the call came to interview and my efforts paid off.

Was getting the job the end?  It was just the beginning!  Now I had to work long hours to achieve success within the classroom and each year brought new challenges and learning experiences.  I made mistakes, some days I failed, but to see a child succeed made it all worthwhile.

A cancer diagnosis right before the start of a new school year became my toughest hurdle.  I dug deep to give my students the education they deserved and maintain a positive attitude while enduring months of chemotherapy.  There were many days I didn’t know how I could go on.  Mustering every ounce of strength, I did my best and succeeded in completing the year.  I still share a special bond with many of these students and their families.  The harder the road, the sweeter the success.

I will always be glad I didn’t let my weaknesses and deficiencies keep me from pursuing my dream to make a difference in the lives of children.

“Your positive action combined with positive thinking results in success.”  Shiv Khera

Success!  Then What?

Success has a short shelf life.  There is little time to celebrate because life continues and so must we.  Success breeds more success as we gain confidence in our abilities and potential.  Our failures are not failures if we learn from them.  Keep working, keep hoping, keep believing, stay positive, and the cherished yet fleeting moments of success will provide us with well-earned satisfaction and joy.

Claudia Bretzing

This Post Has One Comment

  1. I absolutely LOVED this post!!! I’m going to read it often to help motivate me and my goals! Thank you for sharing your experiences and your insight on success!

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