Successfully Unsuccessful

What do you view as success?

Where does it come from and more importantly, how is it achieved?

We all want our children to become successful and to do something great. We all say our kids are the greatest. They’re amazing before they can even walk. They’re amazing before their brain is even halfway developed. Anything they put their mind to, we know they’ll be successful with it. We put so much emphasis of success into our children. But what does it all mean? Yes, they can be successful at certain smaller tasks like taking out the garbage “success!! You threw it in buddy”. And they are certainly successful at driving us as parents crazy. What about the larger picture? The meaning of success that we are fed everyday?

If you believe everything you’re fed then success is a very impractical thing. It’s successful to obtain a job, work your way up to the top and become CEO, certainly. But what did that person have to sacrifice in order to become successful? Time with their wife? Their children? I wonder how many kids are born and forgotten and disenchanted due to their parents success. I saw a magazine ad the other day for a watch. It was a very nice watch worn by a very handsome Leonardo DiCaprio (very nice to look at but I was weary of those daring eyes) . The tag line “What are you made of?” I wouldn’t be as worried about this tag line of I didn’t know the other line the company uses is “Success, it’s a mind game.” The pictures that accompany the slogans don’t make it seem like the watch is for wealthy business men, upon further examination though you realize their cheapest watch is $1400. It is not the hourly wage worker buying these watches. But by inserting the ad into a normal magazine (I think it was “People”) we can all dream about the unobtainable. We can dream about working our way to the top of the food chain and buy a dozen Tag Huer watches. And while we’re up there, we might as well be reading fortune magazine – “For the men in charge of change.”  There is such a high bar set for becoming successful that when you obtain it, success actually comes with 7, three-piece suits; one for every day of your work week.

If you want that type of success, that’s fine. Just don’t push your family under the bus while you obtain your goal. Many CEOs have been very family friendly, others….get divorced. Do we really want to push our kids onto this vision? Do we want to stress them out with corporate ladder structure? The way our education system works is not preparing people to live in the world. It is preparing children to get to college. After college they compete for the highest job they can (the successful ones). The others that don’t go to college will just end up in the equation that society is pushing towards: The wealthy (successful) are served by the uneducated (unsuccessful). uneducated in this sense being the ones who chose not to go to college, or the ones who went to college and “got the joke”. Or maybe the ones who went to college, wasted their money, missed the joke and still ended up serving the wealthy.

I believe you’re successful when you’re doing what you want, in your job, your hobbies, your life. Success doesn’t have to be rising some corporate ladder. It doesn’t have to be about your career at all. I’m proud to say that I am not my job and that at the same time, I love what I do. I have a wife and kid that I love. I never feel guilty from having to leave them for too long a time because my job is “more important” , or that my kids will have to raise themselves (or be raised by a sitter…gag). My life is by all accounts successful. No, I don’t have a $1400 watch, I don’t drive an S.U.V. and yes, am completely in debt after I got the joke. But I’m not really a watch guy anyway.

The values of success I’ll be teaching Jude and Margot are the same ones I’d want them teaching their kids. Do what you love, love what you do, in every aspect of your life. Success is a state of mind, not a magazine ad and not a title. It comes from creation and love and the bond you share between the people you care about. And if that sounds too lame, just live your life and try not to get sucked into the success of the successful unsuccessful.

 

Christmas morning 2013. The pinnacle of success.
Christmas morning 2013. The pinnacle of success.

-AF

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