“You can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”
Think about this simple statement. It almost sounds too easy doesn’t it?
The great myth.
As Americans, we are all taught as children to aspire to success. What does it really mean and how does one get it? Is it a bigger house, nicer car, more money in the bank? Do you have to work 16 hour days, 7 days a week, plot to destroy your competitors or anyone else that gets in your way? This is the great American myth. The way to happiness is paved with the accumulation of more “Stuff”. Put another way it’s, “He who dies with the most toys wins”
What is success?
If we want to achieve something, don’t we have to define it first? There’s an old Yogi Berra quote, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up somewhere else.” So, just what is success?
First, I believe success, like happiness is an inside job. Only you can decide what success is for you.
This is the hard part isn’t it? There is no one arbitrary, one size fits all, definition of success. There’s no check the block list that, once completed, earns you a certificate from the US Department of Success.
If you win the nobel prize in physics but don’t have a dime in the bank, are you a success?
Then there’s the nagging question, what happens when you get there? Do you then “live happily ever after?”
So, What’s the Answer?
I believe success is not a place or a thing. I believe success is a wonderful, long, never ending journey. One that is filled with sorrows, joys, trials, tribulations, celebrations, and fascinating traveling companions. For, if we are fortunate enough to attain success, we will not do it alone.
How do I get started?
This brings me back to Zig Ziglar’s quote that led off this article, “You can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”
What this means to me is that life is really about service to others.
No, I am not talking about giving away all your earthly possessions, taking a vow of poverty, and moving to a monastery.
What I am talking about is simply devoting your time to helping other people get what they want. When you do this, people are glad to pay you for your assistance.
I used to be a mortgage banker. I originated residential mortgage loans for people. What I was really doing was helping people to buy homes. I got paid very well for helping potential home buyers get what they wanted. At the same time, my employer wanted mortgage loans to add to their servicing portfolio. So, by helping home buyers, I also helped my employer get what they wanted.
See what I mean?
Ask yourself, “What am I passionate about?” Make a list of things you really love to do.
Now pick one or two things on the list and ask, “How can I take this one thing I love to do and use it to help someone else get what they want?”
It’s a two way street
When you think about it, success really is a two way street. We can only be successful by helping someone else be successful.
Let’s look at an example. With apologies to accountants everywhere, I’ve tried to pick something that sounds pretty boring. Taxes. Did you know that at the end of 2014, the Federal Tax Code was 74,608 pages long? (http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/look-at-how-many-pages-are-in-the-federal-tax-code/article/2563032)
Let’s say you are an accountant. Your specialty is taxes. You are passionate about being able to pick apart the tax code to find all the little inconsistencies, faults, loopholes, etc., that people can use to reduce their tax bill come April 15th. The more complicated the issue, the happier you are.
I’m a guy with a very sophisticated business situation involving multiple partnerships. I’m trying to find someone to help me get my taxes done on time, yet pay the lowest amount due. Do you think I would be happy to pay your fee to help me accomplish my goal?
Joseph Campbell became fascinated with mythology. He theorized there was a single myth (the monomyth) that was the pattern for all great myths no matter their origin or time of creation.
“Wow,” you say. “That sounds pretty dull.”
A professor at Sarah Lawrence College, Joseph Campbell became one of the most prolific authors and teachers of the twentieth century. One of his most famous books was The Hero With a Thousand Faces.
This book has influenced untold numbers of writers and film makers in the art and practice of story telling.
George Lucas used the ideas in this book to shape the stories in the Star Wars Trilogy.
Joseph Campbell, was the one who said, “Do what you love and the money will follow.”
I believe this is true. I also believe, if you follow this course of action, you will be both happy and successful. But, remember…you are the only one who gets to decide whether or not you have achieved success.
Pick something you love to do. Find some one who needs it done. Go do it for them. Be patient and persistent in your service. Have lots of fun along the way. Most of all, don’t let anyone else define your success.
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