In my quest to understand and dissolve the fear that led to the neurological condition I am experiencing, I continue to receive new ideas and perspectives that will eventually lead to a breakthrough and recovery.
The following is a story I told the students at the martial arts club where I teach.
I recently read, Hello Canada, a biography on iconic Toronto Maple Leafs hockey broadcaster, Foster Hewitt. It was written by Scott Young, former newspaper sports columnist and father of rocker Neil Young. Hewitt broadcast Leaf games for over 30 years, beginning on radio in the 1930s, before moving to television in the ’50s. He became synonymous with the Leafs and was known all over the world, particularly after calling the play by play during the infamous Canada – Russia series in 1972.
Last year, I posted a blog on seven things parents can do to raise their children to feel good about themselves. I would like to add one more item to this list. In retrospect, it is likely the single most important thing parents can do, and that is to raise their children to ‘live in consciousness.’
A young man recently asked me for advice. He wanted to know for someone just starting out how best to live life. When I thought about it, two things occurred to me. First, I felt very honored by the request because I’ve never been asked this before and I understood how genuinely important it was. Second, I realized that the advice I was going to offer this young man, for the most part, would be the same advice I would offer just about anybody, as they are the principles that have become the guiding light for how I live my life … and I’m almost 60.
Someone recently asked me what would be the biggest change on the planet if we all felt good about ourselves. At first, I thought about all the forms of suffering and negativity that exist today … war, terrorism, murder, abuse, bullying, cancer, poverty, discrimination, corruption, exploitation, greed, etc … and then it suddenly struck me … there would be more kindness!
There is no doubt that cancer could be eliminated, but we would need to eliminate pollution and become a more loving, compassionate society in order to accomplish this. Cynics might argue that we will never get rid of cancer, not as long as there is so much money to be made from it. There might be some truth to this, particularly as long as we continue to focus on the effect rather than the cause.
I have an idea. It was inspired by democratically elected Egyptian President, Mohamed Morsi’s recent edict, giving himself sweeping powers over political and judicial processes in that country. In the face of political opposition and street protests, Morsi is asking Egyptians to trust him. Hmmmm!
What is success and how do we know when we’ve achieved it? Is Tiger Woods a success? What about Michael Jackson or the Titanic? What about an Olympic athlete who takes a banned steroid then wins a gold medal without being caught? And what about a CEO who’s company achieves record profits, in part because he laid off 10,000 employees?
Webster’s Dictionary defines success as: achieving a favorable or desired outcome.
Oxford Dictionaries defines success as: the accomplishment of an aim or purpose (as in, the president had some success in restoring confidence). It further goes on to define success as: the attainment of fame, wealth, or social status; and: a person or thing that achieves desired aims or attains fame, wealth, etc.
Based on Oxford’s definitions, we would likely describe Tiger Woods, Michael Jackson and steroid taking gold medalists as successful, but not Titanic. The objective of the Titanic endeavour was to create a magnificent, unsinkable ship. Despite its magnificence, clearly, the designers and builders fell tragically short of their goal.
But what about Woods, Jackson and Olympic ‘cheaters.’
One could argue that a successful person is someone we would want to emulate. I’m sure you would love to emulate Tiger Woods’ success on the golf course, but would you really want to emulate his anger and infidelity? Would you really want to emulate Michael Jackson and his surgeries and drug taking, especially if it meant giving up your childhood? Or would you really want to emulate Olympic athletes and their health risking, steroid use?
And what about people who are successful in their business and professional careers, but whose home lives, health and finances are a disaster. Would we really want to emulate them?
Sometimes … no, all the time … I think our definition of success is far too narrow and erroneous, and our penchant for idolizing ‘successful’ people is tremendously misguided or at the very least, is based on insufficient information about that person … O.J. Simpson comes to mind here. Most of the time, we think of success based on the amount of money we’ve earned, the level of power we’ve reached or the amount of fame we’ve achieved, regardless of how many people we’ve hurt along the way, how much (like our childhoods) we’ve had to give up or how many people we’ve put out of work ‘in order to achieve our annual bonus.’ And we rarely give consideration to the quality of our family life, health or state of mind.
Defining success can be very subjective, but how can we possibly consider ourselves successful if we’re not happy, if we’ve made unrealistic sacrifices, if we’ve hurt other people in order to get to where we are or if we’ve only achieved success in one area of our lives?
Perhaps there is another way of looking at success. Perhaps success could be measured by the level of our contribution to the welfare of the planet. After all, is a company really successful, just because it happens to do well on Wall Street, while at the same time, polluting our air and water. And is a person really successful simply because they have achieved great fame and fortune, while hurting all those around them.
Perhaps a healthier, more beneficial way of looking at success would be in how we raise our children. If I could choose one thing that I would like all people to be successful at, it would be raising children to feel good about themselves, because all other success is born from this. If you feel good about yourself, you are kind, you are compassionate, you are accepting, you are grateful, helpful, patient, generous, honest, thoughtful, caring and most of all, you are loving. And these are the things I would want to emulate.
In Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell talks about the 10,000 hour rule. Gladwell says that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to reach your level of mastery in any particular endeavour. It has also been shown that 95% of a person’s psychological development occurs by the time a child reaches the age of seven.
How many of us spend 10,000 hours developing good parenting skills … before our children hit seven years of age? How many of us have as an objective, raising our children to feel good about themselves? Perhaps if Andre Agassi’s father had told him 2,500 times a day that he loved him, rather than having him hit 2,500 tennis balls, he might not have fallen into drugs and despair, despite earning millions of dollars as the #1 ranked tennis player in the world.
I vote that we change our idea of success and we implement this change in our homes and in our schools!
Have an awesomely successful day!