The best success may not be obvious to others

Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and co-host of the Perspectives morning show on Fox News 1450 AM 93.1 FM. The opinions stated in this article are his and not those of St. George News.

OPINION – How would you define success? There’s no one right answer to this question, but most of us would likely measure it in terms of money, material goods, and recognition. Occasionally we become so hyperfocused on chasing success that we forget that it can take many different forms.

I was reminded of this when an old radio colleague informed me that he was ready to hang up his headphones. His decision brought down the curtain on an impressive 20-year broadcast career that had taken him from Salt Lake City to Dallas to Albuquerque. The act of walking away from his profession at the top of his game wasn’t remarkable. But the reasons he gave for doing so are something that we may wish to consider.

My friend explained how, after much consideration, he chose to leave the safety and security of a stable job, a generous paycheck, and high status position with his employer in order to create his own business and chart his own course. He increasingly felt a need to make better use of his unique talents and abilities. But most importantly, he wished to have impact more than he desired fame and fortune. It was a highly courageous move.

Many of us spend our lives pursuing material goals, success, possessions and careers, as if these are the highest prizes that life offers. In modern culture, the standard model of success consists of starting a career in order to make lots of money, obtaining the status symbols or toys that signify our achievements, and then retiring with a nice nest egg to play out the remainder of our lives. For some, the need to meet this definition of success is so powerful that they bury themselves in a mountain of inescapable debt just to maintain the appearance of accomplishment.

But if fame, fortune and the frills that accompany them are accurate measures of a life well lived, why do many of those who possess these qualities appear so unhappy? Hollywood marriages are measured in days, and rehab clinics host a veritable who’s who of the folks who enjoy the highest degree of worldly success. We can all think of individuals who have been spoiled or, in some cases, outright destroyed by their own success.

Occasionally, however, we awaken to a sense that simple material pursuits tend to leave us empty and unsatisfied, even when we’re surrounded by all the symbols of our supposed achievements. None of us wishes to appear as a failure, but there is intense pressure against departing from conventional wisdom and rejecting the common definition of success. So what could inspire someone to make such a calculated shift in how they measure success? In a word: mission.

This comprehensive change of focus begins when we refine our thinking regarding what is of the greatest worth in life. Is it a bigger home, nicer car, more toys?  Or is it making the highest and best use of our time, talents and passions to fulfill a sense of personal mission? There’s a world of difference between living life with a sense of mission and merely drifting with the current or simply trying to keep up with the Joneses.

Once the goal was simply material success, but now people find that they are actually happier when they’re making a significant difference as only they can. Where they once tried to fill the void in their lives with possessions, they now find satisfaction in living up to their allegiance to God, or to others or to a cause that is greater than themselves.

Instead of starting and maintaining a career for their lifetime, they seek to fulfill a mission; the real and individual purpose that each person has in life. Instead of simply pursuing self-serving goals, they now allow vision to be the force that moves them in the direction they need to go.

Those who are willing to adjust how they measure success will find that they are bursting with the fulfillment of a life well lived. They’ll understand that success is not just about career; it’s about improving the quality of their life at every level and in every facet. Our happiness shouldn’t depend upon what others think.

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twitter: @youcancallmebry

Copyright 2012 St. George News.

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