Success Identified

Written by BG Howard

January 25, 2023

When recently in the presence of an individual who happens to be several years my senior, we fell into a discussion concerning the varying degrees of life’s successes. The gentleman, whom I’ll refer to as “Sam” for reference sake, has tried his hand at a number of business ventures. He has been to school and obtained a myriad of licenses or certifications including automobile mechanics, roofing, carpentry, and social work which only include those I can remember off the top of my head. Sam has been legally married five times and that doesn’t include the three or four “common law” live-ins about whom I’ve been made aware since meeting him roughly twelve years ago.

Currently self employed as the owner of a small business, Sam actually does okay for himself and considers his life one that demonstrates a moderate level of success. He owns four or five houses, sveral vehicles, including a Harley Davidson, and a boat just to name a few of the holdings and toys on which taxes are paid each year.

It’s not quite clear to me what enjoyment is derived from the operation of Sam’s business as he seems to work so much until there’s little time to actually spend be anywhere other than the office. I think he has only taken the boat out once or twice since purchasing it, two of his vehicles rack up more miles when loaned to friends and the bike has traveled less distance than my last pair of Nike gym shoes. Yet, my long time friend continues to assert he lives a life of success and that he’s quite happy contrary to what appears to be the case as, simply put, Sam finds pleasure in the mere quest to maintain his designed lifestyle.

In my observation, I see a man who seems to work all the time and seldom has an opportunity to enjoy the “benefits” of his apparent endless labor. He is always stressed about issues related to his business, including employees or something to do with the physical structure of the facility. The financial obligations often seem overwhelming (beyond the mandated requirements of maintaining taxes and payroll) and he appears to undergo some type state or federal inspection every other month. None-the-less, Sam would readily volunteer that he considers himself quite successful and truly enjoys his life.

Truthfully speaking, I guess the idea of evaluating an individual’s success is closely related to its second cousin, beauty; as that is another determination solely residing in the eye of the beholder. What appears to be difficult work for one person might be considered enjoyable for another. One soul might reason that pleasure or a nominal degree of satisfaction is gained from what is recognized as back breaking labor by others.

Much like the fact that we, as people, all require adequate nourishment multiple times each day to sustain our physical health but everybody doesn’t eat meat, the definition of success is determined by each individual. For some, the idea of success encapsulates simply being able to adequately manage their monthly financial obligations, keep the vehicles in good operating condition and put food on the table. Others require a bit much in the line of “wants” and desire more leisurely benefits as reward for their daily efforts. And there is a select group, still, who maintain a standard of living that puts them distinctly “above” most of working class society. In any case, whomever you might ask; be it a farmer, doctor, plumber or chef, the real definition of success is to simply derive enjoyment from whatever a person does.

There are many people who fall out of bed every work day morning, struggle to get dressed and head off to what are considered their “jobs.” Nothing is deemed pleasurable about the efforts undertaken for eight to ten hours of the day and all there is for which to look forward is the next day off work. That, I venture to say, is what consists of “working” on a job as the daily undertaking is considered laborious.

Remarkably, I’ve found there are few people who actually enjoy what they do in the line of making a living which is the reason their jobs are termed “work” and not a career. Many people graduate high school because that is required, attend college because that is expected, and accept the first “job” they can find because that’s what sensible adults are designed to do. We are taught to desire better and want more as that concept has been engrained in our nature from since before it was natural. On the contrary, I contend that success is simply finding something you enjoy doing and getting paid for it. I could be wrong but it’s just something to consider.

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