Success

When you visualize a successful person, who do you look at? The Wall Street tycoon? The Olympic athlete? The famous actor or actress?

What impresses me about the word success are the many interpretations that allow this word to achieve such a broad meaning. Definitions spring up from a plethora of opinions constructed by unique cultures and environments. Many seem to think it is defined by a level of status, wealth, fame, or comfort.

In my life, on occasion, I am drawn towards these broad definitions, and as I observe much of the media today, success may have the appearance of requiring minimal effort to obtain. “Buy this product and you’ll be a step closer to a happy life”, or “join our organization and you can reach your goals” are just some of the hooks out there vying for our attention.

Success may seem like a short and direct avenue with reward in sight, though once you actually decide to take the path towards accomplishment, the once spacious trail narrows, roots suddenly appear to obstruct the way, and success assumes an evasive nature.

As I’ve learned from my Christian perspective, the definition of success is really quite counter cultural. Success, by most standards is not easy to obtain, and without luck takes substantial effort. To climb the mountain you must train, to get that dream job you need to put in the time and effort to be competitive. To be satisfied in life, many times you need to show humility and defy our self promoting culture.

What defines success to you?

IMG_54301
My buddy Jordan deciding to take the left path on our way back from a camping trip.

 

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Perspective

Perspective

I recently returned from a two-week road trip with my good pal Seth Newby. Near the end of our journey we had the  opportunity to bike past Fisherman’s Wharf and check out the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. This structure is spectacular to behold, reaching a maximum height of nearly 750 feet. Two main supporting cables are each composed of 27,572 intertwining wires that if stretched out to one continuous distance could wrap around the earth… three times. The main towers pose as sentinels that require the submission of each passing freight intending to enter the bay. From a distance this is a quite a spectacle, but when you’re actually on the bridge, vertigo kicks in and you realize how big it really is.

Perspective
Seth looking up at one of the gigantic main pillars of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Being on the bridge gave me a whole new perspective on the bay as well as downtown San Francisco, and as we were cycling across, the two pillars obscured much of the surrounding view. This made me realize that life is really molded by perspective. The closer in proximity you allow something to be in your life, the more of your outlook it influences. As with the Golden Gate Bridge, if you let something or someone become close enough to you, it will essentially begin to “tint” the lens through which you view the world.

Takeaway. What perspective, for better or worse, are the influences in your life bringing you?

Taking Action

Taking Action

 

A little story I think illustrates an important concept:

Many years ago in a distant land there lived a benevolent and wealthy King. He loved his subjects very much and was a fair ruler of his kingdom. Though he had spacious halls lined with gold and silver, his wealth meant little to him, and he gave much of what he had to neighboring empires and the poor. The King remained in peace and enjoyed his rule very much, though soon he would find out that all this was about to change.

You see, no story can be perfect, and as remarkable as this king appeared, he had one weakness. At the very onset of his dominion, he was given a gift to which he owed his power and ability to rule. When he took the throne he was presented with two golden shoes that seemed to capture the very dewdrops of sunlight and radiate them for all to see. Upon slipping the shoes on, the king felt a confidence and leadership that was left unrivaled, and even the mightiest of warriors was humbled in his presence.

So, one morning, much to the king’s dismay, he awoke to find that his precious shoes had been placed too close to the fireplace the night before. The brilliance that they once held, had now faded into singed plainness, and the shoes were no more than any commonly seen in the marketplace outside.

“It cannot be!” cried the king, and he wept in sadness. For the coming days he was quite distraught, and could not speak to anyone, even his closest friends and family. The kingdom quickly began to slip into shadow. Now the king’s advisers and subjects could not let this happen, for all they had seen accomplished was crumbling before their eyes.

It just so happened that two cobblers of reputable status lived within the kingdom. Realizing this, the king’s advisers pleaded with the two men to repair his golden shoes. When both agreed, they decided to give one shoe to each cobbler, hoping this may hasten the repair.

“For the gracious king, I will mend this shoe within two days, and believe me, it will shine even brighter than before,” exclaimed the first, and confidently strutted away with one shoe.

“I will do what I can, and what you request will also be done within two days” said the other, and carried the second shoe away carefully, as if taking a young child in his arms.

The cobblers returned to their homes, thinking hard on how to solve the problem. Soon the sun had chased the moon twice across the sky, and the king’s advisers hurriedly dashed to the cobbler’s shops to obtain the shoes.

Opening the door to the first shop, they found the cobbler fast asleep in his bed. Immediately, they aroused him and asked where the golden shoe was.

“I was just about to repair the shoe, and have drafted a plan that will have it done in five days,” yawned the first cobbler.

“You fool!” they yelled. “How could you say this and not have it done?”

They took the shoe and, shaking the dust from their feet, left the cobbler to return to his sleep.

Hope seemed to fade, and the king was weary, having not eaten nor slept for three days. The advisers rushed to the second cobbler’s house, and were greeted with a spectacular sight. The cobbler, tired from working day and night had not one, but two golden shoes in his hands.

“I did not know what to do right away, but began the repair nonetheless, and realized how to mend the shoes as I worked,” said the second cobbler.

Elated, the advisers returned the shoes to the king, who, upon putting them on, began to jump for joy.

“Where are the two cobblers who did this painstaking task for me?” questioned the king. “I must honor them with a position among my finest noblemen.”

“There is not two, but one man to thank,” said the advisers, and they went away to fetch the second cobbler.

This story is about action. If we say we will do something, we should do it! Complacency is the enemy of success.

Queue the Music

Music is a huge part of my life. It can flip my mood around, bring back nostalgic memories of good times, or help me focus on a task at hand.

A week ago a good friend and I decided to play some music that he first showed me over 12 years ago in grade school. The songs we rocked out to had been played over and over again throughout the years since my first listen, but still manage to maintain that spark that I will never be able to replicate.

Do you have any songs that bring back familiar memories or put you in a certain mood?

Music
Switchfoot’s “The Beautiful Letdown” album. This was the first music I really started listening to. My favorite songs are “Gone” and “Adding to the Noise”

 

Specialization

Specialization

Today I had a short conversation with a geology professor. We hadn’t talked in a while and began to discuss the weather (classic) before shifting to deeper topics such as post college choices he made and I would be making. He explained that when he was a young adult, after the little square cap had been tossed into the air and the celebration was over, he was quite glad to have immediately sought a job. He chose to take a deviation from the path of  continuing education and broaden his horizons. This made me think. What are the benefits and drawbacks to specialization?

Look at any famous athlete, musician, scientist, or entertainer. These people have completely dedicated their lives to their trade and the world wouldn’t be what it is without them. They are respected and known for what they do. The expert is very good at one thing rather than being an amateur at many things.

Personally, I would like to live a life in which I get to engage in a broad spectrum of cultures, trades, and activities. This, to me, ads a spice to life that I think people who specialize in one thing don’t get to see. I may not be famous for what I do, but I am definitely satisfied with where I’m at. If you could be an expert in one discipline but sacrifice others would you?

Focus

I have two exams tomorrow. One at 8:00 am and one at 11:00 am. As I type this I am sitting in the basement of the Colorado State University Library. It’s quiet and people have their noses in their books (or phones).

Have I studied? Yes. Have I studied enough? No. Is this the end of the world? No. I got a bite to eat with a friend of mine for dinner. As we caught up and talked about our lives the conversation drifted from topic to topic, but it was great. We each got to share some of our opinions on life with each other.

I could have been studying during that time, but instead I took a nice little hiatus  (well, two now with the blog post, but who’s counting?) from the books to spend time with a friend… And you know what? Time well spent. The chill time helped me recenter and now I can focus on studying for the rest of the night. Off to review more PowerPoints…