What is Success?

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By Kirk McCarley

Kirk Mccarley

At a business lunch a while back one of the attendees asked that question.  Initially there’s an inclination to measure it vs. certain standards: wealth, a position of power and influence, a solid family life, the ability to take nice trips, buy new vehicles, or residence in a large home.

What is success to you?  Before responding consider this short quiz:

  • List the last five Heisman trophy winners.
  • Name the last five Miss Americas.
  • How about the last half dozen Academy Award winners for best actress?
  • The last decade’s worth of World Series winners?

So, how did you do?

Here’s another quiz.  I bet your results will be better:

  • List three teachers who aided your journey through school.
  • Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.
  • Who are five people that have taught you something worthwhile?
  • Five people you enjoy spending time with?

Ms. Clark resided on the other side of the backyard fence of the house where I grew up.  Mr. Clark passed away before I began school so my most vivid memory is only of her.

Her life was simple.  She didn’t drive, oftentimes walking four or five blocks to the grocery store or a couple of miles to church.  There was not a TV. There was a radio in the kitchen where we would sit and visit on summer afternoons, eating Vienna sausages out of the can and listening to Paul Harvey News.

Ms. Clark’s yard was immaculate.  The grass was manicured with a manual push style reel mower.  Trimming and edging was performed with hand clippers. In summer!  In the Texas heat!

I never heard Ms. Clark mutter a disparaging word about anything or anyone.  Hers was a life of contentment. She died at 89 while clipping her lawn. It was a successful life.

Years later, yet still years ago, I got to know Fritz.  A retired pastor, he was approachable and possessed a sharp wit.  Conversations were never about him.

Our service club met on Monday mornings.  As we arrived for one meeting we learned that one of his children, a son, had passed suddenly the day before.  We all felt badly for Fritz and could not fathom the pain of a parent going through the loss of a young adult child.  Mentally we had already excused his absence from the club gathering that day.

Quietly Fritz entered the room.  Awkwardly we offered condolences and reasoned that he needn’t be at the meeting.  Fritz confessed his sorrow, adding, “My son has gone home to be with his Maker. As a person of faith, I trust in that promise and need to be where I believe God wants me.  That is all I can do now.” Thus was learned one person’s success with grieving.

For me, besides Ms. Clark and Fritz there are numerous other successes flying under the radar.  A few:

  • The friend, who when our family was the most strapped financially, gave us a car.
  • The teenage boy that lived across the street in Fort Worth, who always greeted me by name and taught me the importance of that.
  • Those who have sought my service and counsel as a coach and provide me the joy of celebrating with them when there is a breakthrough or accomplishment.

The people who successfully make a difference in our lives are usually not the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards.  What they do share is an abundance of love.

Who would that be for you?

A graduate of the University of North Texas, Kirk McCarley is a Certified Professional Coach as well as a Professional in Human Resources (PHR) and SHRM-CP Certified. He also is a Production Assistant for both college football and basketball for ESPN and leads group cycling classes as a Certified Spinning instructor. Contact kirk@theseedsowercoach.com, theseedsowercoach.com, or call  314-677-8779.