Yesterday I began to think about success. It occurred to me to wonder if success is a term that has a generally accepted definition. One alternative is that we each have our own concept labeled success. It may or may not correspond to a generally held understanding. Another option is not to think of success at all or to assign that title or quality exclusively to others.

Who ponders the concept of succeeding as it applies to each of us? One possibility is that we measure success in dollars. The more money we make, the greater our success. Others of us may think of commercial success – we sell a million books, attract billions at the box office or perform hundreds of concerts per year.

If we don’t measure accomplishments, what’s left? The answer is the only explanation that makes sense, at least to me. Our successes are as individual as our genes, our upbringing and our highly specific tastes in everything. What that means is that I can’t define your success any more than I can tell you what makes you happy, what gives you joy or what to have for dinner.

My conclusion is that at least in my case, success has nothing to do with numbers, if it’s appropriate at all. Because I have two children who continue to make me proud, my feelings are that I have been a responsible and caring mother. Not living under a bridge or in a shelter suggests that my financial endeavors have been successful. Most of my days in the classroom result in learning. And having created a formidable body of written material indicates that I have learned to overcome writer’s block enough to throw words into paragraphs.

Finally, having one or two or three people who call me friend constitutes one of life’s most formidable feelings of a life with happiness and meaning. Perhaps seeking success in the first place is best left for entrepreneurs and rock stars. The possibility is that seeking success eliminates our pursuits of dreams much greater. Shalom

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