“If we were talking to you on your first day here we would say, “Welcome to planet Earth. There is nothing that you cannot be or do or have. And your work here—your lifetime career—is to seek joy.”
Do you feel like the joyful success in your life is missing? Is it hidden from your perception and experience? Now is the time to reveal this missing element. Society has conditioned fears into all parts of our lives along with terms that stop our awareness of true triumph. Selfish has become the new meaning for self-care. Addiction was replaced with a new definition, abusing a substance. These all bring a new understanding to a word that originally told truth. Failure has become a word that produces shame.
Over time the meaning of many words are distorted and used against us. Is there really failure? This comment comes from judging another to make the speaker look good in comparison. Alternatively, it can make the other person feel less and unworthy. Telling someone that he or she is not successful, has become a way to reduce self-esteem, especially in the school system.
Thomas Alva Edison, who was an American inventor and businessperson, said that he was not a failure. He developed many devices that greatly influenced life around the world, including the phonograph, the motion picture camera, and a long-lasting, practical electric light bulb. “I haven’t failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that don’t work,” he commented about his many attempts to invent the electric light bulb.
He seemed to be quite wise in life. He remarked, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” Another of his comments is, “When you have exhausted all possibilities remember this: you haven’t.” Another observation by him about accomplishment is, “Opportunity is missed by most people, because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”
What kind of work relates to success? Why does it delude you? This is the rest of the story.
There are two kinds of success. What others think of you in society can bring high acclaim, money and honors. Does it pump up your ego so you look good to others? Do you like the attention and acclaim? Is the limelight lifelong or is your 15 minutes of fame fleeting? Is social success brief or sustainable? Alternatively, does inner success bring eternal, lasting, and contentment that we call joy? Do you believe doing the right thing is never wrong no matter what others think? Is being comfortable in your own skin important? Is your self-esteem enough to validate yourself? Which explanation of success is yours?
I wanted validation, acceptance, and peace in my life, because my life was chaotic and dysfunctional from childhood and my marriage, I accomplished success as Valedictorian from high school. I soloed with a symphony on the flute. In addition to being the first in my family to graduate from college, I received the honor of cum laude. I always had high evaluations on my teaching ability over the many years I taught school. I looked like a success in my job, family, and community. However, I felt unwanted, lacked self-worth, and peace of mind.
I ultimately realized that personal fulfillment for success required me to apply new tools to my endeavors. My new tools became honesty, open-mindedness, and willingness. These opened the door to a new life where I could find inward achievement. I always paid my bills and never thought of myself as not being honest. I looked good to others; however, I lacked self-honesty. I had a clean house, taught school, belonged to the right organizations, took my children to their activities and never complained. Nevertheless, I was dying from poor medical protocol and my fearful state of mind. My insides and my outsides did not match. It was time to say, “I want a happy life and to feel good inside.”
Becoming open-minded was another big challenge for me. My family was not open-minded. Growing up, I learned it was my stepfather’s way or the highway. We looked good in church, but I was told what happens at home stays at home and what happens at church stays at church. The physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual abuse I endured was not discussed or ever addressed. Thirty years after I graduated from college, he mused, “We never got you a graduation gift, did we?” There were no opinions but his. He was the “God” of the family. I needed to be open-minded to a loving Heavenly Father, a Creator that would accept me the way I am.
The tricky one for me was willingness. I did not know how to begin with this one. However, I was told, “be willing, to be willing.” That seemed to do the trick. Gradually, I found that Shakespeare was right, “The readiness is all”. I was eager to give up my miserable life for a better one. I understand today, that life is about choice and free will. I could choose to align with a loving universal energy within and have better results.
I realized that fear in my life had stopped many successes. I became willing to release all the barriers to the love that was in my heart. Realizing and identifying that guilt, shame, anger, jealousy, and other negative feelings are forms of fear was a new understanding to me. They were obstacles to my achieving beyond my fear-based life. I discovered and released what was obscuring my accomplishments and achievements. I had been my worst enemy.
This is a sample of a chapter in the book Success Uncovered. The chapter is written by Rev. Marilyn Redmond.