Measuring Success

There was once a boy who worked diligently at school, and even though he got a pass that would allow him entrance to university, there were no funds available for further study. Instead of being discouraged, he came up with another plan. In his mind, university was not an option, but being successful was.

He took a menial job, two in fact, and began to save his money. At the end of a year, he purchased an old car, did the necessary repairs, and began operating as a taxi driver. He built up his reputation by always being available and ensuring he kept his taxi to the standard it needed to be.

Five years later, he owned his own taxi company, which included seven vehicles, and provided employment for seven individuals as drivers.




Where I live, yesterday marked the start of a new school year for our children.

It marked the start of my son’s final year at school, and 24 hours later, I am still questioning where the time has gone.

My nerves were shattered as I waited impatiently for the end of the school day when my children would return home to me, and chewed my nails nervously as I wondered what the outcome of their respective days had been.

(I have to mention here that my little girl, who has already reached Grade 5 – how did that happen? – is an intelligent ‘A’ student and bubbly child with a wonderfully kind heart. Unfortunately, she is also rather sensitive and takes a lot of things to that kind heart. It doesn’t help that last year she was the victim of some mild bullying, and the main culprit is in her class this year. Thankfully, she came home bubbling over with immense joy after her first day. It is early days still, but I am going to choose to believe that she’ll be okay for the rest of the year!)

My son is also rather intelligent – I have been blessed! He used to be an ‘A’ student, but as he has got older he has become a little less studious and is now only just a ‘B’ student. I find his lack of motivation rather disheartening, because truth be told, we won’t be able to afford further education without a little help, and he won’t qualify unless he pulls up his socks some and knuckles down.

There has never been talk of not going to university – which pleases me in a way, because he most certainly has the brains for it.

He came home yesterday afternoon, and for the first time in a very long time, he spoke for forty minutes, only stopping long enough to take breaths in between. He regaled stories like the one above, all told to them by their new class teacher.

The story above was to inspire and motivate those who are facing the possibility of completing this final year, and yet not being able to afford further study, or qualify for assistance for further study. It was a message to them to not give up and to not feel that they could never be successful, just because they don’t have a university degree.

I was amused by his next motivational piece to the ‘children’, about always being the best you can be, and doing the best you can do. He gave them a short lecture on this, and ended with,

“So, if you decide you just have to be a drug dealer, be the best drug dealer – that way, you’ll always have customers.”

I can’t say that that little quip impressed me entirely – I don’t want my son to be a drug dealer. But I see what the intentions were with that example. The kids all laughed, and the example stuck in their minds, and so did the lesson. Kudos to that teacher!

I’d like to go back to the ‘successful’ part though. When my son finally stopped long enough to allow me to be an active participant in the conversation, and after I had laughed appropriately and stated that I agreed that he’d had a great first day and his teacher was brilliant, I asked him,
“Just as a matter of interest, what do you think makes you successful in life?”

He stared at me in horror and replied, “Well, that’s obvious mom. You have to have money and ‘be somebody’. The whole fame and fortune thing. That’s what everyone says. That’s just the way it is.”

I was a little sad when the realization hit me that my son has based his opinion on success by what ‘everyone’ says – by what the media has defined as successful. Success, to him, pretty much means money. So of course, I had to add in a short lecture of my own – I am his mother, after all. He didn’t take it as well as the class teachers lectures though, ha! At the end of it though, he did mutter,

“I never thought of it that way, really.”

And I can’t really expect him to have completely, because he is still transitioning from a ‘teenager’ to an ‘adult’, and I guess he’s still forming his opinions in their entirety, as opposed to just by what ‘everyone says’.(Where I’m from, children are a lot less mature; but I am not shirking my responsibility as his only parent – which, might I add, is rather tough – and know that I should have possibly done a better job in this area.)

My take on it? To define what it is to be successful, you need to first define what you think success is – and not by what the media depicts it as.

Success, to me, is definitely about accomplishment – some purpose or goal I have set for myself that I have managed to achieve. It can be small things, it can be large – but each success, whether big or small, is important.

It’s about experiencing one obstacle after another, and yet still pushing on and not losing the ability to be enthusiastic about life in general.

It’s about getting to the point where you know that every failure is just a stepping stone, and using it!

It’s about experiencing happiness, and laughter, and love, and peace.

I am successful, in small ways. The ways that count, to me.

But if we’re talking money?


I don’t say I’m right – but it’s my opinion.

If you’d like, feel free to tell me what you think success is – how you perhaps measure being successful….

*EDIT* While standing washing dishes now, I thought of at least five other things that define success for me, and make me experience small measures of feeling successful! Wow! It’s mind blowing! 🙂