Success is often measured by the scope of accomplishments a person achieves over a lifetime. Amazing people who discovered a new invention, found a cure for disease, broke a world record or dreamed up classical music made truly distinctive accomplishment(s) and earned a place in the hall of fame for the great. In business, chart-topping leaders work their way up the ladder only after demonstrating unique mastery of a skill in high demand. The way he or she delivers a presentation, project manages a multifaceted team, delivers accurate financial forecasts or problem solves earns great respect over time, ultimately paving the way to success.
Maya’s quote invites a different way to think about the meaning of success. One that is not determined by what one does, but rather driven by how one makes “others” feel. Take for example Elvis Presley’s first appearance of “Hound Dog” on the Ed Sullivan Show.
Was it his voice that people remembered the most or his swivel? Likely both. Yet what sparked worldwide interest was the feeling people had after watching him move. They felt inspired and wanted to get up and dance the way he did. To this very day, we still talk about how people felt the very first time they watched Elvis’s hips shake and feet move.
Yes, Maya has it right. People are indeed known to have short term memories. We often say the phrase “how quickly people forget” this or that. It is true. They will forget about the impossible deadlines that were met, how great we managed and the impressive titles that we held. What we can count on most is that people will never forget how we made them feel. How we reached their hearts and pulled them into the conversation. Whether or not we really “listened” instead of only hearing what they shared.
I always try to keep this quote top of mind whenever I am working with others no matter where they fall in the organizational hierarchy. Many years ago I was asked to deliver a very important presentation to the entire company. The material was complex and the pressure was on to do a great job. The day of the presentation I went to the meeting room extra early to test the sound equipment and to make sure everything was in place. Surprisingly, Jim, one of the most Senior Officers showed up early as a show of support. He sat quietly in the back and listened to me rehearse my speech. Jim provided wonderful feedback and great advice on how to improve my delivery. The day was a huge success and I greatly attribute that to his help.
When I think about Jim today, I can’t recall all the business awards he won or positions he held. What I do easily remember is the tremendous gratitude I felt for the support he gave on something that was very important to me. I do my best to do the same for others, seeking not so much to be remembered for what I do, but for how I make people feel when our paths cross. If inspiration, motivation or simple goodness is what people think of, then I know I have succeeded.
At the start of a new year, I always take time to think about what is most important to me. My hopes and dreams and wonderful new experiences I would like to enjoy with my family. This year I also reviewed resolutions made in the past and noticed a recurring theme. The intention to make sure that no matter where I am, or what I am doing, to try my absolute best to MAKE EVERY MOMENT COUNT. To make a difference in the lives of the people I love and care about. Whether at home, work or wherever my life’s journey takes me, to try to bring goodness to everything I do. I have come to realize that its actually much easier to stay “busy” keeping up with a busy schedule than it is to be intentional about carving time out of the day to do things that bring greater joy.
Here are a few steps that I have taken to be
- Finding new sources of inspiration. The life of St. Therese of Lisieux continues to enrich my own. I am enjoying the book “The Way of Trust and Love” a Retreat guided by St. Therese by Jacques Phillippe. Fr. Philippe shared these writings as a retreat and at the request of participants, wrote it as a wonderful book.
I may never get to France to enjoy this retreat in person, but I can certainly read the same wonderful writings.Also rising earlier in the day to spend a few quiet minutes reading Scripture.
- Volunteerism: Finding small ways to contribute a little bit of time to the church brings a lot of happiness, especially to the people I am helping.
- Reading about people who changed our world for the better: learning about how they accomplished so many great things in the face of great adversity. Here are some great books I recommend to learn about being intentional with your life’s purpose:
- Lincoln on Leadership (Don Phillips)
- A Million Miles in 1000 Years (Don Miller)
- Capturing Grace (Jeremiah)
- Thrive (Arianna Huffington)
- Quiet (Susan Cain)
- The Leader with no title/the Monk who sold his Ferrari (Robin Sharma)
- Figuring out ways I can do less – but be better: Intentionally creating more white space in my day to think and breathe. Basically asking myself, which problems do I want to have and where do I absolutely want to go big? Adopting more of a “I choose to” vs. “I have to” mindset.Essentialism by Greg McKeown is a great book about how to be more discerning when it comes to your time.
In spite of the many things happening in our world, we can be strengthened in knowing that we have a great and loving God who always keeps His promises. In Psalm 91 He reveals what awaits those who love Him.
“Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name.
He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him.”
What a giving God we have. If we set our love on Him, we can know that He will be present during times of trouble and carry us through. We can count on the forces within the world to always be at work to distract us away from this promise – to weaken our faith by using fear as its master tool to separate us from God. We can armor ourselves through prayer.
Love God with all your heart and mind. Know that He is changeless and always in control. He is the Creator of all things. The beginning and the end – He is “I AM”. No problem is too great. No worry too deep. Give Him everything – your trust, fears, love, all your hopes and dreams. Pray for his Grace – every day. He will answer in His way and time.