Success can be viewed as an achievement or a journey, or both, depending on the person, the context and the conditions.

Amongst the media class too often success seems skewed to financial achievement. Yet financial success does not always mean good sense.

Those who are wealthy or achieve wealth through enterprise tend to command respect, awe and adulation. From starting businesses Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook fame and Jack Dorsey of Twitter became notable for accumulating wealth greater than many nations. Good on them! Due credit to them for their initiative and business acumen!

Hollywood celebrities, global corporate and bureaucratic elites demonstrate success in climbing the tortuous ladder to newsworthiness. We are expected to listen and adulate any woke pronouncements, no matter how much they defy good sense or cost an unwitting public. Bounteous rewards accruing to them are insufficient: they crave relevance.

Stellar financial success does not mean they have wisdom and decency to know what is best for us in all other areas of our life. Cancelling ordinary citizens and other conservatives of different opinions from their social media platforms to deny free speech undermines democracy. Dismissing people of different opinion as deplorable is hardly laudable. Success in that endeavour causes harm to individuals and democracy that outweighs any benefits their services deliver.

My success

Success means different things to different people. I recall commentary from a priest talking on marriage (he’d know!) speak about changing expectations of parenting. “Once,” he said, “parents were considered successful if their children grew up, were productive and married in the church to someone of the same faith. Now parents might consider parenting successful if the children grew up (at all), married (at all), and were motivated and non-addicted.”

Parental “success” is a journey. Success at one stage does not guarantee success at another, though makes it more possible. Also factors outside of family, including screen time, now have a strong influence on children’s growth and potential, as socialisation is deferred to teachers, social engineers, peers and screens.

Those familiar with my background will know that I come from a large, dysfunctional, chaotic family, raised free-range. Consequently the natural genetic smarts endowed by parents did not receive the discipline, encouragement or the support to enable each of the bright children to fulfil their true potential. Independently, we made our way to give useful, quality service in diverse fields.

I’ve been able to break through the chaotic pattern parenting my own children to provide sufficient discipline, order, direction, education and support to enable them to forge their own pathway to productive careers developing their potential. Invariably they enhance the lives of other people, families and businesses in Australia and around the world. Their hard work is intelligent, considered and meaningful. Many struggles marked the imperfect journey. Mistakes were made, I’m still being told. Like most parents, we did the best we could with the knowledge and resources available to us at the time. Judgement under contemporary woke values is misplaced. Yet what happens from adulthood on can be as fraught as early childhood.

On reflection, my parenting has proven largely successful, though I am unlikely to be granted headlines like Zuckerberg or a high profile platform to share “how” so that others may benefit. Commitment to family has precluded accumulation of great financial wealth, resulting in those of new wealth tending towards condescension of me and my efforts. You may identify with this experience. Like Zuckerberg, they falsely assume obscene wealth equals superior wisdom and morality. Their assumptions are dead wrong.

As I listen to the lame, repetitive requests parents make of their misbehaving children annoying others, putting people at risk, I quietly affirm my own efforts, however imperfect.

Most of my professional career has been facilitating the success of others by project managing and writing winning bids, tenders, applications, grants and business proposals for organisations from multi-agency projects, small business, indigenous and non-profit organisations across all industry sectors. A store of latent knowledge has been acquired. Over $1 billion of projects have been undertaken, many of which have been successful, creating opportunities and advancing the careers and businesses of so many.

Retrospectively, coming from the selfless generation, the pattern of my life has been facilitating and fortifying the success of others. Satisfaction has been my reward, rather than personal wealth accumulation so prized by today’s self-indulgent.

Success of others

Each of us has a story littered with struggles and worthy achievements worth celebrating that may not make headlines like WWII veteran Captain Sir Thomas Moore. At 99 years old Tom used his Zimmer frame to walk the length of his yard to raise £1000 for those in need during COVID. He ended up raising £30 million, along with the spirits of a nation reeling under the pandemic.

Not every success has dollar figures attached. To the disabled person success may be advancing a physical skill to become more independent. To the athlete it may be winning the race or improving personal best performance. Under COVID conditions, success for the business person may be recognised in surviving. Flourishing would be a bonus.

Being plagued by addictions of any sort is a lifetime challenge for the individual and their loved ones that warrant encouragement every day that progress to sobriety advances. Those recovering from accident, illness or surgery making efforts at recovery cheer inwardly (or outwardly) every step advanced. For the devastated middle aged man confronting the challenge of a divorce, looking beyond grief to affirmation of twenty successful years together is a hard task, yet worth celebrating. A dying person’s quiet acceptance of fate is a special kind of success that warms the heart and assuages grief.

In every case, success is primarily dependent upon effort drawn from within our being to achieve something important to us. Others can help and encourage, yet the responsibility is ours.

Celebrating success

Take time to reflect on the many measures of success and challenges overcome that pepper your life as a consequence of tremendous efforts. Having worked hard and attained goals, it’s important for us to pause a moment to celebrate the achievement and savour the effort to get there. You and your life are as special and important in the overall scheme of things as any global corporate oligarch.

Rewards and awards assigned through favouritism or bias don’t count, as life eventually catches up with limitations, often in a cruel way. Dealing with reality, however brutal, is always the best means of moving forward towards any goal. Courage is essential. When success arrives, then it will be well earned. Time to celebrate!

I wish you every success!  

2 thoughts on “Success

  1. Kay Fuller

    Hi Paula: after reading your blog I realized that throughout life I have spent lots of time striving for success; not really thinking about it and appreciating all the small events along the way that were baby steps to becoming the person I am today, successfully at peace (most of the time) with myself. This is an ongoing process and with life there are always changes and challenges that come along to upset the apple cart Some quotes from Confucius resonated:
    “Our greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising every time we fall”; and “Everything has beauty but not everyone sees it” –
    I thank you for your excellent and analytical writing – know you are much appreciated and admired for your talent expressing ideas.

  2. Kay, wonderful that you not only read the article, and also found it caused reflection on your own life. Wonderful that despite so many challenges you have found means to celebrate your own success. Love you Kayki.

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