“Try not to be a man of success but rather become a man of value”
I want success. I dream of it daily. I affirm it to myself every morning and every night, and frequently throughout my day. I advise others to go after their own ideal for success.
What is success?
We live in a world in which being successful is everything. Success is measured by power, popularity, control, achievement, and winning. Having more and being more is success. In any case, we are still believing that “success” means “things.”
I like things. I like things a lot. I’m 26 years old and I still write a long Shopping list, even if nobody reads it. The things, however, are not all meaningless. I know this. I am who I am with or without them. They are symbolic of my persona, and my persona is not my essence, it is a morphing thing, it is only a mask, a buffer to the rest of the world. My essence is the truth. My essence is what, when considering success, conjures images of love and playfulness, of reverie.
Possessions and wealth are not enough. While comforting, wealth cannot fulfill. Benjamin Franklin was of the opinion, “Money never made a man happy yet, nor will it. The more a man has, the more he wants. Instead of filling a vacuum, it makes one.” Wealth may momentarily help us to escape emptiness; it cannot cure it.
Try all you want to become a man (or woman) of success. It will likely happen if you try often and with clear focus. However, if you are merely seeking those images, then you will be just another example of how money doesn’t buy you everything.
Try to become a person of value, and it won’t matter to you if you have success or not. Becoming a person of value means that first, you are of value to your own existence, and second, you are of value to the existence of others. Being a person of value may mean having those images of success, but if it does not, you will find that it truly does not matter to you.
It may seem absurd that to become a person of value, you must become consciously selfish, but this only means that you are still hung up on the term “selfish.” Get over that. You are selfish. The more hung up on the term you are, the more selfish you are. You may act and behave un-selfishly, but truthfully, you are only doing so to suit your personal need, perhaps of being viewed as unselfish. In the end, you’re still selfish.
Forget the notion of being a martyr in order to be of value. Isn’t it possible that in order to be of the highest value to people you care about, it requires that you are wealthy, healthy and really, really happy? How valuable are you if you’re miserable? Don’t worry that being of value will require you to sign your life away to handing out blankets to the homeless. Just let your passion guide you, even if you’re uncertain what it is.
Go about your life like a downstream, easeful, and play with the turns and currents. See what happens when you make choices that are meant to serve your highest values, not just the temporary want. Imagine yourself choosing behaviors that serve your ultimate happiness.
Don’t worry about success. It will come if it’s in line with your passion. Consider only how your passion is of service, is of value, whether just to you or to the whole world, and all that you most want will fall into place in perfect time.