Finding Success In The Journey

This week I’m attending a leadership retreat for Florida Hospital where I work. Like always, it’s been great. Florida Hospital is a very caring and unique place, and it shows in the retreat’s spirit, topics and speakers. We’re on a break for the afternoon as I write.

Noelle Pikus Place, Silver Medalist in the skeleton at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, spoke this morning. In her presentation, titled Where You Look Is Where You’ll Go, she told her inspiring personal story of commitment and persistence through hard times to win that medal. She is definitely a success!

As she was talking, I was thinking about all of the talented and similarly dedicated athletes who will never win an Olympic medal, or even get to compete in the Olympics. Are they successful? Are they less successful than Noelle? And, I was considering my own personal journey and my quest for “success.” What am I trying to achieve? What makes me successful? Will I win a “medal?” What if I don’t? What does that make me?

Let’s be real; we aren’t always able to achieve our goals. Work, where many of us (including me) have invested a lot of our ego, can be problematic in that regard. You may work for years on a project or business initiative that never comes to fruition. Then what? What do you have to show for your labor? My own work is pretty intangible now. I’ve been developing concepts, and building relationships and business processes; it’s nothing you can touch, and it can be very hard to explain to my coworkers. At this point, some things seem to be working and some not. It’s hard to appreciate any definitive major “success.”

Earlier this morning, I had a breakfast meeting with the publisher of my new book, The Love Fight, which should be available by the end of the month. (FYI – my publisher is Florida Hospital Publishing and its leader is also here.) I’m excited for sure, but I’m also worried. What if no one reads it, or worse, what if they read it and don’t like it? Is the book itself my medal? Or does it need to be a best seller to be a “medal?” My last book, More Health, Less Care, was a two-year investment of time and energy and sold only 3-4000 copies. That doesn’t even sound like a bronze medal to me. This new book is a five-year investment. How many copies need to sell before it is a success?

Good question, but I think I’m really asking – How many copies need to sell before I am a success? Is it the recognition that makes me a success? Why should that matter?  After all, my book is complete; the message is unchanged whether read by many or by few. If Noelle had a world record-breaking skeleton run in an unwitnessed training session, would she be a success? Surely she would celebrate that achievement, but who else would know of it?

Even before this morning, I’d been mediating on these issues for a few months and making some progress. Reading Ecclesiastes last week has reminded me of the futility of worldly success, and my latest book from R.C. Sproul has reminded me to find my success in following Jesus. But apparently I could use reinforcement here and I got some from Noelle. At the end of her time, I think in response to a question about winning the Silver, Noelle crystallized it for me. I can’t remember her exact words but, paraphrasing, her message was:

You know, people think it’s all about winning the medal. They ask me things like, “How close were you to getting the gold?” But it’s not about the medal. It’s about the person I’ve become along the way.

I think she nailed it!

By that measure, with the help of God, I am achieving success. My work on the job, my writing of books and blogs, my efforts to be a good husband and father, and all of my other efforts to achieve “success” – undertaken as a follower of Jesus empowered by the Holy Spirit – are making me a success, God’s success. I guess God gets the medal.  I hope he gets the gold.

Comments

  1. YOU NAILED THIS ONE, MY FRIEND!!!!

  2. Todd Bauerle says:

    Pete I finally figured out how to find your blog and love this one! It is only about the journey because we have no control over outcomes just our intents, efforts and attitudes about the outcomes. It’s not about us but all about Him and if we can get there life gets really simple.

    • Peter Weiss says:

      Todd,
      Welcome! I’m glad you’ve found it and thank you for the kind words. Slowly, I am learning to let go of the outcomes of my efforts, especially the world’s judgement on my efforts/outcomes. It’s a process. This week I’ve made quite a bit of progress, but no doubt there will be some backsliding.
      Pete