Success is

Credit: Iain Blake

Climbing a spiral staircase.

I was inspired to write this after a dream of climbing a spiral staircase in 2012. We all have our own definitions of success. I suppose here's mine which I wrote 5 years ago.

"I realized something recently, if the path we choose is not according to what life has destined for us, whatever success others perceive there is, we will never feel it's a success. We will always crave for more and it will lead to self sabotage and turmoil. Each of us has our own ladder to climb. It could be straight, narrow, wide and steep. With each step, we discover something new. We learn a lesson, a unique virtue about ourselves that will help us climb the next one. Sometimes, we fall and slip. Yet the greatest ones are those who rise again and continue the journey.

My journey is exactly like this one. A spiral staircase that has enough space for others to climb with me. I try to inject my inner creativity with each step. It has a railing that I can always hold on to when I'm about to slip.  Just like the spiral staircase, I am unable to see straight ahead, where I'm supposed to go.  I always have to adjust and re-position myself in order to take the next step.

I think the worst thing that could ever happen is if we find ourselves climbing the wrong ladder. If ever we do, life has its way of showing us a landing to connect to the right one.

Yet some of us due to impatience are tempted to take the elevator as an easy way out to buy some time. Later realizing that the first track to the top will land us to the same position where we were at, sometimes sending us back to the basement.

Success is not measured by fame, money, the size of our house, the number of countries we have been to and all the tangible material things money can buy.  Don't get me wrong, it's good to have them but they're mostly perks. Along the way, if we are attached to pursuing these things alone, we get sidetracked by what we are here for.

Success to me is living life the way God designed me to do. If you don't believe in God, let's say--by doing what gives me passion and purpose, by sharing with others what life has given me, may it be my time, talent, or resources. That life is not all about me. I am merely playing my role in a big picture.

I still have a long way to go. I'll let you know if I ever get there. I wish we all do reach the top of our stairs. For those who have, a big heartfelt congratulations to you."

Five years later

Reading this again, I still believe in the same things.

However, climbing the wrong ladder isn't the worst thing.

In fact, over the years, I have met a handful of people who will not hesitate to step on others to get to their illusion of success.  I truly believe that's the worst thing.

They would lie their way, back stab, burn bridges, kill relationships and will lose their own integrity in the process. For them, nothing is ever enough. Sadly, some would even demolish other people's staircases to feel they're the best because their misplaced hearts couldn't take seeing others succeed. They feel they are the center of the universe.

In reality, all these titles and possessions can never be taken to the grave.  One might feel he's leaving a legacy behind, to be written in books or perhaps to be associated with something as a first. The truth is, no one really remembers these later except, perhaps, for a small line on wikipedia.

I was talking to a friend about this. We're not perfect, but living life as honestly as much as possible, we could leave this world peacefully.

Yet, we all know deep in our hearts that the best legacy we can ever leave behind is to do something to enrich another person or help each other be better.  To use our talents, money and possessions for the goodness of this world.

I believe it is possible to achieve success doing it the right way.

The end will never justify the means. And I pity those who think it's a dog eat dog world. For someone to think that, must have had a really messed up childhood.

So I'll change that last sentence of what I wrote 5 years ago.

" I wish we all do reach the top of our stairs. For those who managed to climb with good hearts and pure intentions while being a light to others, enabling others to achieve their dreams, climbing the stairs together in harmony, a big heartfelt congratulations to you."

Otherwise, it's always miserable to be at the top, alone.

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  1. success to me is touching people's lives even if they don't know it

    1. I think that's wonderful Dezzy. I look back to the past and the people who stand out the most are those who have touched my life. They were mentors, friends, who unselfishly and generously offered support at a most needed time.

  2. This is somewhat inspiring and yet painful for me. Don't get me wrong, life is really hard when your goal is to be successful and yet you don't know what it means to be successful. Is it all about the things you like, stuff that you want to achieve? I don't know. I guess, happiness is the real goal for me. Something that i've been longing. I hope, I'll have my ladder to success and happiness one day.

    1. Hello Andi, success seems the goal but ultimately happiness is the way to get there. Better yet, it's joy that is truly important so I'm sure deep within your heart, you've had it all figured out.

  3. You are so right - climbing the wrong ladder is not the worst thing. I quite like your analogy and I'm going to have to give this one some more thought. Some people don't mind the loneliness, so long as they are at the top, and circumstances have informed them of the ladder that they must climb. I do still believe that those of us who can and are willing to help one another should consider it a responsibility and a privilege to be able to do so

    1. Thanks Rooth, I agree that some are fine with the loneliness at the top. Each of us are wired differently. I think the means used to get to the top tells so much about a person as well as the presence or absence of real happiness.