What’s Your Success Story?

Sometimes we get caught up with our routines. We are busy with our checklists and miss out on what is important and irreplaceable.

Beersheba Jacob
What’s Your Success Story?

What’s your definition of success?”

I have asked this question repeatedly over the past year. Some of the responses I received from teenagers and young adults were: “Success is achieving your goals.” “Success is becoming famous and rich.” “Success is living your dreams.”

After hearing their definitions of success, I asked, “What does success look like?” and then showed them a series of pictures. The first picture was that of Neeraj Chopra, Indian gold medal winner in the javelin throw in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, beaming into the camera with his gold medal. He is a man who made India proud. I asked them if success looked like this. I saw hands go up, heads nod, a couple smiles, and a loud “Yes!” That certainly looked like success.

The next picture was that of Albert Einstein, one of the greatest physicists of all time. We still study his theory of relativity and quantum mechanics at school. This elicited a feeble response. Not many felt that Einstein looked like success.

Next up was a picture with stacks of money and a celebrity. I saw hands shoot up. Many of them thought that becoming rich and famous truly marked success. One of the last picture displayed was that of Pichai Sundararajan, also known as Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google’s holding company Alphabet. His life of hard work and achievement is inspiring.

“What’s your definition of success?” I asked the same question to my first-year nursing students at Lowry Adventist College, my Sabbath School class, which is comprised of mostly college students, as well as to a group of teenagers and young adults at a youth camp. Their responses varied widely. Here are some that intrigued me the most: “I want to be so rich that I don’t have to glance at the price tag.” “I want to be so famous that I don’t need an introduction.” “I want to build a home for my family.” “I want to start a care home.” One student even shared his 10-year plan, which included working in the United Kingdom as a nurse and saving up money to invest in land and buildings.

Success means different things to different people. To some it’s ticking off items on their bucket list, to some it’s being happy, and to others it’s living in peace and having a well-settled life. After hearing a number of different answers, I asked the young adults to divide into groups and visually chart out their success story. I told them to include all the elements that would be a part of this venture.

After they had drawn out their success story, I asked one more question: “Where is God in all this?” There was silence.

This made me wonder how I defined success and whether God was involved in all those details in my life. Sometimes we get caught up with our routines. We are busy with our checklists and miss out on what is important and irreplaceable. Our definition of success says something about our identity and purpose. It reflects who we think we are, what we identify with, what we wish to be known for, and what we think we are here for.

So, allow me to ask you once again: “What’s your definition of success?”

Beersheba Jacob