Wednesday, October 5, 2011
So often I have felt like I am such a loser because I don't drive a certain kind of car or live in a certain neighbourhood or wear a certain type of clothing. Thank heavens I have lived long enough to understand that these things in life mean nothing when it comes to what really matters.
People get all caught up in what "success" looks like and forget about what it feels like. The ladder to success is actually a series of steps that serve to assist you on your quest to personal betterment. They do not lead to a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow or the end of a legal hearing or the end of a business merger. They lead to personal betterment and lend support along the way. The stairs can be crooked and bend here and there and really who knows where they end up? The thing is that it is the journey that matters and not the destination.
As I have been climbing these steps myself there are a few things that I have learned. There are, so far as I can tell, four different kinds of success. There is Financial success, whereby one gets himself set up financially to never be in want of anything. This only goes so far really, because money can't buy happiness or health. Indeed some folks who are very wealthy admit to feeling hollow inside because they have nothing to look forward to. It is all right there in the palm of their hands.
There is also Personal success. This is the one where we begin to realize that those little milestones along the way matter and that they create who we are to become in life. I remember learning how to ride my two wheeler bike. My sister was helping me. Before I ever put my foot on the pedals she went over the entire bike with me and explained the mechanisms. Then she had me sit on it and held the seat while, in a stationary position, I learned how to balance on it. Then slowly she walked beside me as I pedalled my way down the lane. Softly she said, "You might doubt that you can do this, but I know that you can and that you will be great at it." Suddenly I was on my way and she was no longer having to support me by holding onto the seat. Yes, I wiped out. And yes, I wiped out numerous times in the course of a lifetime of bicycling. But each time I knew that I would get back on and do better. No mamsy pamsy training wheels for this dood! And so I have carried through my life the knowledge that, just when I may doubt myself, I will succeed. This is a form of Personal Success.
There is also Community success. This happens when one works with others on a project and it comes out successfully. Teamwork is learned in this and also knowing that the team has to have a leader and that everyone will, through teamwork, have others they can lean on when they need assistance with their contribution. A hockey player will not be able to score a goal without an assist at times. So the team needs to be people we can rely upon to do their job and it needs to consist of those who will build us up and encourage us so that we can do our best for the team. Community success is also the type of success that holds reputation. So even though someone in the community may be dirt poor, if they are the one that you should go to for help with your car engine or painting your house because they are the best at it, then that is who you go to. The community has recognized this person's expertise and supports that expertise. Being the best artist does not necessarily mean having your work hung on the walls of a gallery. It could mean that you are wicked talented and share that talent by encouraging up and coming artists as well. I remember when I was told that I would only be a shaman once the community recognized me as such. Well, for that to happen I had to first recognize myself as a shaman. Then it was a few years before I would ever hang a shingle to that effect. I kept it under wraps. Then my clients started calling me a shaman. Then a woman needing shamanic healing showed up at my doorstep and said, "Is this where the shaman lives?" and I had to say, "Yes." I had developed a reputation simply by doing the work.
Then there is Spiritual success. This type goes way beyond anything that any of the other three can accomplish. Spiritual success allows you the ability to look beyond yourself and see things from a much higher perspective. As you do, you are able to move beyond the duality of "good" and "bad" and find the middle ground of "knowing". This is when the pumpkin head that we all are initially gets its eyes, ears, nose and mouth cut open and has the top of its head opened up and all the pulp taken out to make way for the light of the spirit fire within the lantern that has just been created. And with the light of that lantern within us we are able to shine our light out onto everything and everyone around us.
So next time you are struggling to make a mortgage payment or to pay a utility bill, don't be so hard on yourself. Look at what really matters in your life and give yourself credit for the other forms of success that you have accomplished along your life journey. The mortgage will get paid and the utility bill will get paid. It will all be good. Breathe. Take the next step upward on your journey.