From time to time I look through all my old journals and notes hoping to find some lost jewel of a thought that I had forgotten about. Many times these are quotes from books or speakers that I have had the privilege to learn from. I try to always write down some of my key notes that I think would be valuable to me in the future because I know that I tend to do just what I mentioned, go back and look through them.
Well, this past week I did just that and in one of my journals I found a half sheet of paper folded a few times between the pages. Written on it was a great quote I would like to share with you – I am compelled to mention that I have no idea who said it or where it came from so I am unable to give proper credit but I will at least say that it was not from my own pen. Here it is…
Success looks easy to those who were not around when it was being earned.
The reason that this is such a compelling statement for me is that in the present circumstances I find myself in a place where I am doing the hard work. I feel as if I am “earning” it. The fact is that it is not easy. The hard work is continuous. I am always thinking and wondering “How can I better do this or that?”
While I am always thinking through success I have to pause those thoughts for things that I need to do at the moment. The things I am referring to are not bad things or even hard things. For instance I went on a walk a few yeas back with my brother-in-law (he was 3 at the time). We walked for a while, then sat by a pond skipping and throwing stones just to watch them make a splash. It was awesome! The time I spend with him I enjoy, but I want to make sure that I am there in that moment with him physically and mentally. I want to invest in his life any chance that I can. I want to invest intentionally in his life. I want to see him succeed. Plus, it is great practice for me as my own kids continues to grow.
Here is my question: When I am in the midst of the “earning” success, how do I clear my mind from what seems to consume it, the opportunities for success and focus on the opportunities right in front of me?
This can be hard when your mental energy is all but exhausted. While I was deliberating this today I was thinking about my life and what I have learned so far. I came to a conclusion that I think was quite refreshing. While this conversation is still ongoing I thought it valuable to share with you.
I enjoy working hard toward being successful and I try to always pursue excellence, but I have come to value the times when I am not working. The times when my family is sitting around the living room for an hour watching the little ones laugh. I have learned to appreciate the extra half hour at the table after dinner with a cup of coffee just letting the conversation go. Those relationships are worth more than “success”. So here are a few things that I have put together that I would like to pass on to you as this discussion has played out for me.
- If people matter the most, be willing to let everything else evaporate when spending time with them. Focus on them. Your sincerity will mean more to them then any calculated response you could muster.
- If you reach success and while standing there on the peak of the highest of mountains you stand there alone, was it worth it? What good is a grand view if you have no one to share it with? Have you ever witnessed an amazing act, view or event? Whenever you try to explain or share it with someone else, it is just never the same. Take the time to walk with others. There will be times when you will have to wait for them like a man waiting for his wife but if you see it as him waiting for her to walk down the aisle as opposed to outside a dressing room at the mall, your attitude and your expectations will be drastically different. People are worth the wait, if only to share each others joys and sorrows.
- Take your time. The road will be hard but if you focus so hard on getting to the end of the road you miss the opportunity to sit in the shade with your brother-in-law and throw stones in the pond on the side of the road. Those moments are joys to us both. Those are moments I want more of. I understand that you do not want to take this too far and get lazy but balance yourself.
This life is not one meant to be lived alone. The relationships that I have I cherish. My relationship with Jesus Christ as Savior. My Wife. My Kids (My “Minions” as I like to call them). My Family. and My Friends. Each of those relationships takes work and effort, they take me owning my part of responsibility for the relationship, and each relationship carries so much joy in my life. I would not want to reach the summit of what we call success alone. To stand there at that moment without my hand in theirs and the smile on all of our faces would ruin the moment. Their presence and blessing would only compound it.
So what did I walk away with?
Success and relationships are engaged. This leans to an interesting new question – What is success? We will have to look at that another time.