May 13, 2015
The other day, my buddy Austin was telling me about an essay he was writing for one of his college classes. The essay prompt was:
“What is success? What does it mean to you?” Austin, who knows I enjoy reading about success, successful people’s stories, and the common threads in such stories,
sent me his essay and asked what I thought.
His essay was great – many good points were brought up: success is never final, and hard work will lead to success, are two that stood out. But overall, my opinion differed from his – and since we are always honest with each other, I shared with him my thoughts. In doing so, I thought it would be an interesting blog post to get people talking. So as you read, please think about what success means to you – what it means, what it looks like, how you obtain it – and comment at the end.
So here are my thoughts. (And remember, this is my opinion)
The word “success” is small, but its meaning carries substantial weight. The word is thrown around by people from all different corners of the world, as the desire to “do well” or “to achieve success” does not discriminate. Most people, when they think of success, probably think of positive end results: the student’s A+’s, the CEO’s seven-figure paycheck, the athlete’s awards. This is logical, because those grades and that money and that fame are all observable things – they are all goals achieved, boxes checked off. But what people don’t see – and what they sometimes refuse to see – is the work that produced those results.
To me, success is more than just an end result. Results are not coincidences; they do not materialize by happenstance or “luck”. I do not believe in ” luck”. The athlete who just got a multi-year deal? He didn’t wake up one day, roll out of bed, and land on a golden contract. The teacher whose class got the best results on the state tests? Not many people comprehend or appreciate the hard work and late hours he or she spent on helping those kids prepare. The end result is what people see and deem a “success”, but the person who strived for that result – who shed blood, sweat, and tears on the road towards that end goal – knows that a medal or a high GPA wasn’t an overnight victory. He or shes hard work, itself, is just as a great success as the end result is. Success is never final. Money and fame can run out but what was learned on the road to the achievement, can last a lifetime.
As athletes, my teammates and I have been given an unbelievable opportunity. After all, we get paid to play a game – and a game we love. But then again, not many people see the 6:00AM lifts, the late night games, the ten-hour bus rides, the being away from family for six months straight, and the rest of “the grind” we all endure in order to attain what we, as athletes, want. We don’t want to be minor league players; we want to be major leaguers and to help our respective organizations win a World Series.
That being said, we are in no position to complain. We play our favorite sport and we get paid to do so – and we owe it to our organizations to work as hard as possible to reach the Big Leagues. That is our duty, and we owe it to many people – most importantly ourselves. The last thing any athlete wants is to look back in thirty years and have any regrets. That is what will make you lose sleep at night.
In my opinion, success is a highly complex concept. The road to success is never-ending, and yet success can be fleeting. Not one single person can tell you what success is because success comes in so many different flavors. Success is in the eye of the beholder, and yet it’s too often measured in the eyes of the onlookers. What one person sees as success, another can see as failure, and vice-versa. That is the craziest part of this… Success is so complex, yet you – and only you – choose the meaning of it.
What do you think success is? Would love to hear from whoever would like to respond. Appreciate your time.