A former youth of mine recently sent me these questions and said she considered me successful, would I answer them for her, below are the questions and the answers, I'm interested to hear your thoughts on how you define and measure success.
Five Successful People
How do you define success? I think success is achieving goals, working beyond yourself (i.e., stretching yourself to go further and work harder than you thought you could), I think success can even involve failing if it means setting a goal and risking something to try and achieve it, if you don’t get all the way there—I still think there is success in having put forth the effort. Success is a job well done, putting forth the effort to do something really well.
How did you become and stay successful? Well, the definition of successful is relative—you said I was successful—not me! Though, by my own definition of success, I suppose I would have to say that I have achieved success, at the very least. I think some of the key factors were 1) my parents made me see things through. If I signed up for soccer, I played the whole year, even if my team was losing every game and I didn’t want to play. When I made a commitment, they made sure I held to it until the end, I think that’s a big deal. It’s easy to get frustrated or discouraged or think things are impossible, but because they wouldn’t let me just walk away, that is one of the values I hold to, if I commit—I am committed—100% to do the best I can. 2) My dad would ask “did you do your best?” if I got a D on a test but had done my best, that was okay. Now, normally a D is not my best, so if I don’t give something my all I really need to evaluate and start putting in more energy or finding new ways to see things so that I can do my best. 3) I have had lots of encouragement along the way. My mom always used to praise us, in the beginning for little things: “good job brushing your teeth!” or “thank you for putting your shoes where they belong” and then later in life for doing well on academic or extra curricular things—my mom is a cheerleader of sorts and I have several of them in my life, they tell me when I am doing well, which gives me energy and motivation to do more things well.
What type of education did you need? To be successful or to do what I do? My “success education” lies in the above teachings, along with others. To do what I do as a pastor I needed a bachelor’s degree (didn’t matter in what) and then a master of divinity degree. My BA was a 4 year degree and the master’s is a 3 year degree.
Is this where you imagined yourself to be? Starting when? When I was younger? No. I wanted to be everything from a vet to a doctor to a teacher to a…..who knows what?!? High school? No. I wanted to be a counselor and even into college. Then college brought ideas of working in social welfare, teaching, counseling, advocacy, immigrant rights, and the beginnings of thinking I would work in the church. Finally before my 4th year I saw I could do a little of everything I wanted as a pastor.
Are you happy where you are? Generally. I think I am doing what God wants me to do and I was called out of my gifts and passions. So a lot of the time I do what I love to do. (other days are harder and need more convincing that this is right, but mostly I am happy).
How would you advise me to start my “road to success”? By imagining what you could do (and not limiting yourself to easy or simple things), by looking at what you love to do, what calls to you, what you could do all day and not realize the day had passed, and start exploring those possibilities. Try some things, take some risks, don’t be afraid to fail, and pray, God’s guidance has also been a big part of taking me to where I am, and that’s a big deal to hear God AND follow God’s leading.
What is the most important tip you can share with me? Don’t be afraid to risk, to try things, to put yourself out there, because it is often through trial and error that we really learn how to do things.