Friday, April 9, 2010

Defining Success

 "To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—this is indeed a gift from God." (Ecclesiastes 5:19, NLT)
Photo from Being There
Everyone is created with talents, but few rise to full-blown fame because of those abilities. With a current world population approaching 7 billion, the vast majority of us live in relative obscurity. Many hold the notion that the most talented among us will eventually rise to the top, but that’s not always the case. In fact, I would dare say it’s not the case. That’s why it is so important to define what success means to us personally.

Take blogging, for instance. Many write, but few become sensations. Consider Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman. A homeschooling mom and rancher’s wife in the middle of Oklahoma, since starting her uber-successful blog, she has also published a New York Times #1 bestselling cookbook, has been featured in Southern Living and Woman’s Day magazines, appeared on the Bonnie Hunt show and Good Morning America, and is now in talks to have her love story play out on the big screen with Reese Witherspoon possibly acting her part. How does that happen? She is talented, no doubt, and charismatic, but her success involves much more than just her talent. You can call it luck, or chalk it up to connections and publicity, but ultimately, it lies with the sovereignty of God. (I did email her to ask for her comments and insight on what brought her to where she is today but have not heard anything back; I think my blog is not successful enough).

Since there is such a huge spectrum of what success looks like, we must all ask ourselves what success mean to us, individually. Rather than defining success against other’s success, and possibly feeling deflated, let’s be our own measuring sticks. In any area of life, what does success look like to you personally?

I came face-to-face with this question several years ago and learned so much about myself in the process. For as long as I can remember, growing up, I dreamed of making it to network news someday. After graduating from college, I got my first reporting job in a small news market, as most all newbies do. From there, the aim is to work up to constantly bigger news markets, eventually arriving in a major city and then possibly being swallowed up by the network. But I met my husband, and we settled here--in our small news market. I wasn't going to be moving on.

I could have felt like a failure for not moving higher up the ladder, or I could choose to redefine success. For me, success wasn't making it to the network after all, but rather doing the best job I possibly could, right where I was. Then, a few years down the road, I got to figure out what success looks like in a new role: Mom. I reevaluate that one every day!

God gifts each of us with specific talents and prepares good works for us to do with those abilities (Ephesians 2:10). We don't do well when we look at others' achievements, especially achievements in our same area of giftedness. As the old saying goes, bloom where you're planted. A sunflower can't become a lily, or even the sunflower blooming beside it; it can only be the best sunflower it can be.


  1. Beautiful post. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Great post! I believe success is being happy with yourself. I could say I'm a failure for not going back to school or having some high paying career and to many others I may in fact be. But I wouldn't trade where I'm at for the world. I have an amazing Husband who has given me the opportunity to stay at home and raise our daughter which is a dream come true! So there is my success!

  3. Sometimes I feel bad that my blog hasn't made it big like so many others that started years after I started mine. But then I think, would I really want it to be that big? You are right I need to redefine success in my mind based on what I want. Thanks for the post! You have given me things to think about for sure.

  4. Hi Crystal, I think our children are our greatest successes too :) Good job!

    Jennifer, I visited your blogs--I think they're great! I know, though...blogging can get discouraging--especially when you write what you consider to be a great post and no one comments on it. But I have had to tell myself that it was still a success to me, that the lesson I learned that I shared was incredibly life-changing for me (even if no one commented). Also, just because few comment doesn't mean only a few read! Be encouraged :)