Thursday, May 30, 2013

Success or Failure: It’s a Relative Matter

We celebrated the Dean’s list ceremony at my university two weeks ago. When I was reading the list of successful students who were on that list, I was happy to see some “regular” names but I was even happier to see some new names on it. In particular I was thrilled to see the name of one of my advisees, “Elie C.,” who made it to the Dean’s list for the first time although he was close to being suspended from the university a couple of semesters ago.  Two years back, Elie came to my office asking for help because he had received some severe suspension warnings from the administration. I advised him to change his major and try to make a new start. I warned him at that moment and made it clear to him that this was his last chance. To my surprise and that of everyone else, not only did he manage to pass his exams but he passed them brilliantly!

“Most great people have attained their greatest success just one step beyond their greatest failure”—Napoleon Hill

Another story on success and failure came to my mind when celebrating this event. I recalled an incident when I was about ten years old. At that age, I did extremely well at school. Although my parents were happy every time I brought my grade book home, my reward was simply some kisses with a couple of words of encouragement. On the other hand, I had a friend who was relatively less talented than me and who occasionally passed her exams. But every time she did not fail her semester, her parents threw her a big party to celebrate her “success. At that age, I was cynical of these parties and did not understand why my friend’s parents were so impressed by their daughter’s minimal success.

One day when I came home with my grade book, my mother was doing some ironing. I said, Mom, I came in first in my class.” She answered me back, “OK,” without even looking at me, and then continued her work. I got so upset at that moment and replied to her promptly, “Is that all you can say to me? Should I fail my exams first and then pass them so that you would be happy for me?” All I could think of at that time was the parties that my friend got for simply passing her semester. Mom then stopped what she was doing and came to me. She explained, “ Sweetheart, coming in first in your class is no longer news for us. Now you need to surprise us with something different.” Hearing Mom say this taught me something very important at that early age: we can’t be successful if we remain in our safe harbor. We need to always get outside our comfort zone and explore something new.

One needs to try always some new ventures to surprise and impress not only others but also oneself. A life-long learning approach is needed to continue to achieve that success. Also, we need to trust ourselves, be more willing to take risks, explore new ideas and always look for creative solutions for any of our problems. The most wasted of all lives is the one without sweat and the world’s most boring game is “Playing it safe. We should never stand still; we must always go forward, follow our dreams and stick to our plans.

I shall finish this post with one of my favorite inspirational quotes that stresses the importance of dreaming, exploring and pioneering in order to achieve sustainable success:

"Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination"Oscar Wilde

Picture by Karim Abou Samra
Thank You RAP for your valuable Comments!