Success is wonderful. Who does not want to be successful? Understanding your success is greatly linked to understanding your heritage and the road that lead you there. Too often, we forget how hard the actual path may have been. Why look back? After all, you have what you desire and you have achieved so much—why take a trip down Memory Lane and revisit a time when it may not have been so easy? Simple. It makes you humble!
My husband is an attorney. Most would deem him successful and accomplished at this stage of life. Yet, by choice, he wears a very interesting watch. It is his choice to wear a $39.99 plastic Timex watch dressed formally or casually. He has several expensive watches that just sit gathering dust while his favorite “plastic” watch is worn daily. After all, it tells time, has the date, multiple alarms, is indestructible, can be worn while exercising or in the shower—it has what he needs. As a bonus, if he loses it or it breaks, it is easily replaced!
Last year, he was honored for a prestigious award and in front of hundreds of people in the Library of Congress, he told the story of his watch and just what it represented to him. It was a story all about being humble and about looking at achievement from a historic vantage point. My husband takes pause in the fact that when he looks at his watch over the course of his day, he remembers just where he came from and how his journey was not always so easy. When he was ten years old, he came to the United States from Israel, speaking little English and forging his way in a new land. Everything he became in the years beyond that was what he built, sacrificed, worked at and planned for. It was not always easy; there was not always clarity and abundance. So, when he glances at his watch, it keeps him grounded.
My husband also gives dollars freely to homeless people on the streets of NYC and other major cities that we visit. It is his view that it is that very dollar that separates us from them. It is a wonderful thought process that keeps us both in the moment and anchored to our own heritage. Remembering where we came from, not forgetting adversity is what actually measures our success. Both my husband and I have always worked hard for what we have, it was never given to us. We both had jobs from a young age; worked hard at all we did, paid our own way in school and even paid for our own wedding. It took years to save and buy our first home and to start a family. We try hard not to take today’s rewards for granted, to remember a time when choices were fewer and the day-to-day harder. It is a barometer for the realities of life and sobering reminder that we are all the same, rich or poor, lucky or unfortunate. Our unique histories keep us humble. They help us to remember who we really are and what values are important to us.
So in your own day-to-day where are you being humble? Are you taking the time to celebrate your wins and acknowledge that the fails along the way, the tougher moments, help to define those wins? Are you mindful of the time of your life?
Do This Now:
Make a list of all the things in your life that you really had to work for that eventually became a success. What were the hardships and roadblocks along the way that defined those successes? Is there something that you do, something that you wear that reminds you of your journey? Finding the pieces that keep you grounded, that define your history continue to work for you. Look at your list again. Is there anything today that you really want, but may feel like it is impossible to achieve? If you did it before, it is quite likely that you can do it again? Success is the end result of work, failure, and action. What are your markers and are you making them work for you everyday?