“A human being is a human being. No one is superhuman. For that reason, the most important thing is simply to become the very best human being you can. No matter how you adorn yourself with the trappings of fame, rank, academic credentials, knowledge or wealth, if you are impoverished or bankrupt inside, your life will be barren and empty. What kind of person are you when all those externals have been stripped away, when you stand unadorned except with your own humanity? Human revolution is the challenge to change our life at the very core.” SGI President Daisaku Ikeda
For me the definition of a successful person is someone who lives true to their authentic self and integrity. Someone who doesn’t just merely follow the crowd or their culture’s definition of what success is, but instead follows their own heart and seeks to define their own identity and destiny.
I believe that a lot of people feel empty because they are following culture and not their own heart. They are not connected to their authentic self or their true purpose and so they waste their time trying to fill their emptiness with the superficial, buying ‘stuff’, competing and comparing themselves to others, but all the while never really filling that void or that emptiness because they are disconnected from self.
For me, true worth is measured by the essence of someone’s soul. I think it’s very ignorant and shallow to think that you can determine somebody’s worth by how much money they earn or what job they have etc. Sadly, I know this tends to be the most common measure of success in our culture. However, personally, I’ve never been greatly impressed by financial wealth or material possessions, I’m more concerned with the riches of the soul, spiritual/self awareness, wisdom, knowledge.
My view is that it’s who we are, not what we have, that defines our authentic self. All the material trappings, finances and external stuff we can lose just as quickly as we gained them. They are transient and do not define our inner authentic self. Our true humanity is who we are stripped of our worldly possessions and finances. It’s only then that someone can discern who they truly are and how much they truly love who they are.
In my experience, it’s not always the most talented, driven and hard working who enjoy the greatest recognition anyway. It’s those who have the right connections, those who are lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. Life can appear very unjust and cruel in that respect, that’s why I refuse to measure my worth, or anybody’s, by what’s apparent on the surface. Life can be too much of a lottery and a lucky break is often the biggest factor in why some progress and others don’t. For me, it’s about who someone is, their soul, not what they have.
I believe that everyone measures their worth differently. For some their worth is measured by the external stuff. i.e. – how much money they earn, physical appearance, job they have, car they drive, clothes they wear, house they live in etc. For others, it’s more about intellectual ability, some it’s spiritual or religious standing. For others, fighting terminal illnesses or major disabilities, success is just about getting through each day.
For me, it has always been about wanting to inspire others. It was always said to me, right from a child, that if you can genuinely make a positive difference in just one other person’s life, then it’s all been worthwhile. I have received countless messages from people online and sites like Myspace, many of them extremely heartfelt and personal telling me how a song that I have written has reached them or inspired them in some way. I always made sure that I printed off every single one of those messages because they are truly worth more than gold to me. Whatever happens I can rest assured in the knowledge that I achieved my greatest ambition which was to inspire. I have the proof in black and white, no one can ever take that away from me.
What is your measure of success?
(From October 2011)