Everyone wants to be successful. It’s grafted into our DNA to want to achieve, to accomplish and add significance to our lives. Even if it’s hard for you to admit that you want to be successful, take a moment to think about it. You may not want to be the next pop star, but you probably want to be a successful parent, successful at your career and successful in relationships.
And can be a good thing, but it doesn’t always look like we think. Here are a few things you don’t always hear about success:
Success Isn’t Always Tangible
On an earthly understanding, success is commonly measured by tangibles—how much money you have, the type of possessions you own or the amount of influence you have on a particular group of people. Somehow we end up measuring success by material things, yet success has nothing to do with money, fame or power. Those “things” have been held by some of the most evil human beings in history and no one is saying they were successful. That’s because success has everything to do with what is unseen.
In a spiritual perspective, success occurs when you’ve stayed true to conviction, made the right choices, even when tempted to do the opposite or remained humble in the face of injustice. This is success. It’s the inner feeling of clarity, authenticity and peace that comes from remaining in love and truth. It’s not what you do that matters but how you do it that measures success or failure.
For example, if you’re at work and you’re given a nominal, boring task to do, you can either do a half-hearted job and get it done or you can take full ownership over it and commit to doing it well. If you take the first approach, your boss may be happy because it can be crossed off the list, but your inner-reward will be minimal (if that). If you take the second approach, chances are you will feel a great sense of accomplishment, confidence and cleanliness because you honored the task, even though it didn’t really seem to have much value.
Failing Is Essential to Success
You must fail in order to succeed. No one succeeds without first experiencing a bunch of failures. If you’ve ever played a sport, trained for a marathon or practiced for a theater performance, you know that it takes lots of time and dedication to perfect the art or sport that you’re participating in. No one shows up one day without any former training and runs a marathon. Failures are simply practice runs for success.
Too often the voices of discouragement and despair can cloud the clarity of vision it takes to truly succeed. One thing I’ve learned through venturing into new waters artistically, spiritually and mentally is to discern the messages that come at me during the process. I’ve become accustomed to tuning out the messages that drag me down, deflate my dreams and remove courage from my bones.
Every time I fail, I tune out the discouragement and self-judgement. I exercise grace and kindness towards myself. I recognize the lessons I need to learn; where I missed it, where I was selfish. This transforms my perspective and rearranges my energy in such a way that I have a clear mind and pure conscious.
Success is for the Humble
Jesus said, “the meek will inherit the earth.” This isn’t just a nice saying or a phrase to put on your wall. It’s a spiritual principle that operates in a real way, with tangible effects. There’s a misconception of successful people that the are go-getters, that the take the bull by the horns. They run over people and do whatever it takes to make sure they get what they want. While this mindset may increase productivity, revenue and assets, it doesn’t increase success or true value.
In fact, it’s just the opposite. Those who practice humility, being meek, low in heart and open in spirit will gain the greatest, lasting influence in the earth. Why? Because people who are meek, humble and selfless are attractive in spirit. People who operate with humility cause other people to succeed and draw the best out of those in their presence. Not many people are attracted to proud, controlling individuals.
The same spiritual principle is also seen in the understanding that the first will be last and the last will be first. The more you force yourself to the front of the line, push yourself to the top, the more you’ll find yourself on the bottom. Yet, practicing surrender and trusting in the intelligence of God will produce the very things you truly want. This is true success.