Facebook has got to be the most prominent place, these days, where success is being measured. You see people post about their houses, cars, jobs, vacations, etc... Their words may communicate one thing in a post, but the pictures communicate something else. This is all in an effort to communicate they are achieving success in their lives, and there is nothing wrong with that. There is great satisfaction in feeling successful.
The question I want to ask you is this: Are you defining your own SUCCESS? Or, are you letting society dictate to you what SUCCESS is for you? What are you willing to sacrifice?
Here is what I mean: Today's society has put so much emphasis on the material things we acquire, that people kill themselves, and often sacrifice the quality of their family life, to meet those standards to satisfy society, not themselves. We have allowed society to tell us what success is, instead of defining it for ourselves. How many of you are in jobs you hate because it pays well and enables you to have the things you have? Would you be doing something else if you did not have certain standards to maintain? Are you successful if you work long hours, make good money that buys all the things you feel you should have? Look at all the business magazines that tout the successes of the wealthy CEOs. We talk about these people as great examples of success because of the size of their bank accounts, and turn a blind eye to the quality of a father or husband they are, or were. God forbid being a good father or husband make it into the criteria for success.
The reason I am writing this is this: I have only shared this story with a few people in my life. In Iraq, 2003, I stood in front of a large freezer sitting alone in the sand in our base camp. My Marines and I provided command, control , and security for resupply convoys. A Navy nurse had just guided one of my trucks and I to this lone freezer in our camp near the medical tents. We had a fallen Marine in the back of our truck whose body was to be transported home in the morning. We were to place his body in that freezer for over night. It was hot, and the freezer struggled to maintain a low enough temperature to slow the decomposition of the bodies inside. When the nurse, with her eyes filled with tears, opened the door, there were 12 Marines in body bags in there, stacked waist-high. I felt as though someone had reached into my chest, grabbed my heart and lungs, and just squeezed and twisted at the same time. The corporal who was driving the truck with the Marine we were to place in the freezer looked me in the eye and said "Sir, I'm not putting gunny in there." I had no argument for him. I was thankful he felt the same way I did. I said he had to stand guard over gunny until a helo arrived in the morning for him, and he gladly said he would, and he did.
In that moment when the nurse had opened that freezer door, and I saw those Marines' bodies and I thought of the Marine in our truck, a dominant thought and feeling took over. These Marines, mostly 19 years old, will never know what it is like to have a family. They will never discover the joy of a child. The gunny we transported that day had a wife and two children, never to see each other again. In that moment and with those thoughts flooding my mind, I made this promise to those Marines laying before me: That I would be the best father and husband I can possibly be. To honor them and their sacrifice, I would be willing to sacrifice material things for the quality of LIFE, not the other way around.
This was the most defining moment of my life. This was my Iraq experience. I was not a grunt on the front lines, so I am not saying I had a more unique experience than my brothers and sisters. This was just my experience that changed me forever. I remind myself of that promise every day, and yes, every day. Not one day goes by that I do not think of that moment, especially when I look at my son.
My son will never know how much money I make. He has no reference as to if we are rich or poor. He does have a measure, however, of how much time I spend with him. As he grows into a man, he will always feel my presence and perceive for himself whether I was a present father or not.
That goes for my wife as well. Thankfully, I did not marry a woman who values material things over time spent together. Together, we focus on time spent together, and not if she can go shopping for material things. She cares only for our time spent as a family.
To bring this post full circle; time is life's greatest currency. It is a gift from God. Are you willing to sacrifice society's definition of success for your own?
What is your definition of success???
Agoge Leadership Development LLC
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