I believe that everyone, at some stage in life, dreams of his personal success. Over the years some dreams change dramatically, some fade away, and others are squashed by negative people or circumstances. In a perfect world everyone would have dreams of success that not only survive, but intensify into visions that take wing and take root. Sadly, this is not the case. Most people end up settling for far less than their best.
What is your vision of success? Allow me to offer a success blueprint in the form of an acronym that spells SUCCESS.
The cornerstone of success is service. Our culture may measure success in terms of fame and fortune. But, history shows that a life based on these is hollow at best. A success plan that does not include lifelong service will not lead to success or satisfaction.
“But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” — Bible, Luke 14:13-14
“Faithful servants never retire. You can retire from your career, but you will never retire from serving God.” — Rick Warren
“The only way you can serve God is by serving other people.” — Rick Warren
Service is the behavior resulting from an attitude of unselfishness. When one shares his time, talents, resources, and wisdom he is looking beyond himself and acting as God intended. An unselfish person is alert for opportunities to serve and responsive when he identifies a need, even if comfort, pleasure and safety must be sacrificed.
“You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give.” — Winston Churchill (1874-1965)
“Those who believe in the importance of serving others should lead the way by fighting against the temptation we all have, and maybe especially as we age, to close in upon ourselves.” — Marvin Olasky
“He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.” — Bible, 2 Corinthians 9:6-7
The word “compassion” means “suffer with.” An unselfish attitude allows us to see the needs and suffering of others. Through our own trials and this awareness of others’ struggles, we begin to also feel what they feel. This is what compassion is all about, feeling the pain of others. Compassion is the purest and deepest form of human understanding.
Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’ So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
— Bible, Luke 10:25-37
No one can adequately help others unless he has his own house in order. So, it is not selfish to devote time and attention to self-improvement. In fact, it is a prerequisite to helping others. Contentment with one’s own status quo does not befit someone with a success objective. People with the desire to be successsful see everyday as an opportunity to get better at something. They make a commitment to continuous improvement. Think of your personal improvement as a gift to both yourself and others.
“If at first you succeed, try something harder.” — John C. Maxwell (1947- )
“I can’t go back to yesterday – because I was a different person then.” — Lewis Carroll (1832–1898 )
“What we are is God’s gift to us. What we become is our gift to God.” — Eleanor Powell
Excellence is not a standard that measures one’s performance against others’. It’s a standard for measuring one’s progress against his potential. It is not perfection, but a superlative indicating that someone has thoroughly applied his skills, talents, and character in the areas of greatest importance. Furthermore, excellence is a moving bar. Achieving excellence creates new opportunities for even higher levels of excellence.
“Excellence is not a skill. It is an attitude.” — Ralph Marston
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” — Aristotle
“Excellence is the unlimited ability to improve the quality of what you have to offer.” — Rick Pitino (1952- )
A success plan based on unselfish service and commitment to personal improvement in pursuit of excellence is the path to a life of significance. Being significant, not for fame and glory, but because we are called to live significant lives is the meaning of true success.
“I feel the capacity to care is the thing which gives life its deepest significance.” — Pablo Casals (1876–1973)
“There are fine things which you mean to do some day, under what you think will be more favorable circumstances. But the only time that is surely yours is the present, hence this is the time to speak the word of appreciation and sympathy, to do the generous deed, to forgive the fault of a thoughtless friend, to sacrifice self a little more for others. Today is the day in which to express your noblest qualities of mind and heart, to do at least one worthy thing which you have long postponed, and to use your God-given abilities for the enrichment of someone less fortunate. Today you can make your life – significant and worthwhile. The present is yours to do with as you will.” — Grenville Kleiser (1868-1935)
Everyone leaves a legacy. Why not leave a legacy of significance? What better legacy can a person leave than one that impacts others in a positive way?
“What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.” — Albert Pike (1809–1891)
“Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.”
— John Wesley (1703–1791)
There is no greater satisfaction in life than knowing you did your best to make a difference in the lives of others. Satisfaction should not be the goal of success. Accept it as a benefit, perhaps the ultimate earthly benefit. A life lived in pursuit of satisfaction is likely to end up at the wrong destination simply because satisfaction is generally confused with comfort and pleasure. True satisfaction is a deep inner joy that comes from a life of unselfish service and pursuit of excellence.
“Don’t aim at success – the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue… as the unintended side-effect of one’s personal dedication to a course greater than oneself.” — Viktor Frankl (1905-1997)
“There is no greater calling than to serve your fellow men. There is no greater contribution than to help the weak. There is no greater satisfaction than to have done it well.” — Walter Reuther
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