“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
― Winston S. Churchill
How do you measure success? I was asked this last week as I sat in church and listened to the sermon. Our pastor probed the congregation to think about our lives and how we feel it measures against success when we meet our Creator. I have to admit, it made me think a bit about success, all it encompasses, and what I feel is a good measure. Look around you and you will find all kinds of “measurements” in our daily life. We measure ourselves by numbers. The size of clothes, numbers on a scale, level of IQ; we all get caught up in the enormity of a number. But does this really measure our worth and value in the world?
For example, take the common household scale. I hate scales, by the way, for many reasons, and I hardly ever step on one unless my doctor makes me do it. First off, people tend to focus too hard on a scale and live and breathe by the very number they see each morning when they weigh. I did this once upon a time in my life and swore I would never do it again after it nearly destroyed me. Now, I do know scales have a time and place in everyone’s world, but why do we feel the need to put so much emphasis on them? Why do we see the number that pops up on a tiny dial merits our success for that particular day? For the severely overweight or the person struggling to overcome starving their bodies, a scale can be seen as the devil himself. Each time they step upon the two footpads, panic can rise in the throat, or dread and shame will pull its dark curtain down. Scales, another way to measure how well we are doing or how much we are failing for the day.
The same goes with clothing sizes. I am sure I am not the first person, man or woman, who has cringed when trying on clothes in a store, hoping the size we hold is actually the size that fits. That magic number we strive for, whatever it may be for the day, sits in our hands like Cinderella’s glass slipper. And when it doesn’t fit, we knock ourselves down as we humbly ask the store’s employee for a different, perhaps larger size. Or we completely skip that part and just forget the entire article of clothing and walk sullenly away from the dressing room empty-handed. Why can’t companies figure out a way to label clothing, not by a number, but by phrases like “fabulous” or “savvy?” How amazing would it be to yell out to the woman tending the dressing rooms that you needed to exchange your size “bombshell” for a size “stunning?” Am I crazy for wanting to do this?
As I get older and begin to become more comfortable with who I am as a person, I find my measurement of success changes too. I also feel having kids has helped me take a long, hard look at measuring success. How do I measure up as a mom? How am I measuring up spiritually? Am I hitting the mark as a wife and friend? Gone are the days when I constantly see success as the size of my jeans or the score on an exam. It is now measured upon how I interact with the world, and what kind of physical and spiritual mark I am leaving on this side of Heaven.
My goal is to measure success by what I see looking back in the mirror and the values that one face holds for the day. I strive to remember that our success in life is not based on a slew of various numbers, but instead focuses on the kind of footprint I have the opportunity to leave behind. My success will be raising two children who are healthy, happy, and spiritually sound in their lives. My success will hopefully be to show love, to show compassion, and to show respect towards the world and towards the ones I love. I know failure is inevitable, and human fallacy will take hold more often than I care to admit. But if I can keep my eye on the “prize” and have the courage to know my mistakes are not final, then surely I have the upper hand in this battle to shatter the things in this world that attempt to pull me down. In the meantime, I challenge anyone who reads this to rethink the way you measure success and pay it forward to the next person. All it takes is just a spark of change to turn the world on its head.
Until next time,
When I wrote this post, I was heavily thinking about people and success. But re-reading some things this morning, I find a connection with measurement and wine. So here is your fun word for the day, “oenology,” or the science of viticulture. For people who know their wine professionally, they like to measure wine based on how it performs. Did the cork hold up? How are the legs of the wine-and this is when you swirl the wine in your glass and how slow it drips down the side determines the “quality.” Although, I have had wine with “great legs” but really didn’t care for the taste, so sometimes this scale could be wrong.
Oenologist also measure wine based on the smell, color, and most importantly of all, taste. Wine buyers like to measure a wine based on where it is made, so location becomes a sign of perfection. In France, wines of Bordeaux have a classification system that was started back in 1855 and has held ever since. You will hear or see words like “first growths,” “premier grand cru,” or you could just stand alone and be a Pomerol, which doesn’t need a classification because they produce some of the most expensive blends in the world. And they are fabulous.
I have had the fortunate experience of having some of all these classifications, thanks to my sweet Dad. And I still have many of these to enjoy because of him. I love those wines because they do show up to the table when it comes time to open them and share. But I find myself not really clinging on to the idea of wine classification when it comes to determining what I like. Sometimes the thrill of wine is finding a bottle that drinks really well without spending an entire paycheck on it. So when I find those diamonds in the rough, I like to spread the word. I find myself wanting to give the label a chance to shine on its own. Much like we do as people in this world. We are all floating around with our own sense of classification on how we measure up, and sometimes it’s great to just rise above it. So maybe what we need to be doing in the world is acting more like a Pomerol. Break away from a measure of our self-worth and stand on our own merit.
Why don’t you go out there, find a wine that fits your needs, and truly enjoy it. Make your own measure of success with it. I am not saying the other big names don’t hold up or shouldn’t be enjoyed. Because they should, and they work hard to maintain their standards of quality. Sometimes its just nice to relax a bit and step out of the “zone” to see what else this world has to offer.
Until next time,