By Maddie Smith
A businessman who is in his mid-30s and alone is retiring and living in his mansion. An ex-con who has been released from prison has organized a homeless shelter for dozens of people. A comedian who struggles to display an honest smile brings waves of endless laughter to a local club every Friday night. A farmer who struggles to keep his head above water financially works with pride to continuously provide food and resources for the rest of his country. A teacher who has been teaching for 35 years has helped one of her students who struggles to fit in publish a novel. Who is the most successful?
The businessman, the ex-con, the comedian, the farmer, the teacher, or the student? It depends on who you ask.
Each one of these people is normal. They have endured obstacles, but these obstacles have guided them to success. Each one of these people has strived to achieve his or her vision of success. Only you can justify which one of these people you see as the most successful.
Your dream may be one of personal luxury. It may be one that brings happiness to others or provides resources or opportunity for those surrounding you. It is up to you to conceive your notion of absolute success.
Determining your vision of success has no deadline. Only those who fail to invest attention to their dreams fail to achieve. One of the most accomplished people I know constantly reminds me to “move with purpose.” This is a phrase that is far too easily dismissed. As an actor walks across the stage during a production, there is a reason for it. The actor crosses to fit the storyline, not to count extra steps while looking pretty.
Why live life going through the motions without any goals? Unless you truly have a perfect life, it is impossible to keep telling yourself you are entirely content. Everyone wants change, no matter how significant or minor. The wisest words of Mahatma Gandhi ring true: “be the change you wish to see in the world.”
If you want to be a lawyer, quit waiting around for a degree to fall in your lap. If you want to learn how to play piano, put your fingers to the keys. If you want to change the world, make a plan. This is how to succeed: tell yourself what you want, then toss out your excuses, invest yourself, and make the changes, no matter how difficult.
Those who are persistent enough to reach their goals are one step closer to becoming successful. However, never let your goals become your limits. Achieving one objective is a foolproof opportunity to paint another blank canvas. Embrace the moment by building upon your accomplishments and pursuing new ambitions. Consummation is no reason for culmination.
Take Albert Einstein for example. Despite having already won a Nobel Peace Prize in 1922, Einstein became a professor at Princeton, formed the Emergency Committee of Atomic Scientists during WWII, and became a member of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People). Today, his legacy remains alive, but not solely because of his brilliance. Albert Einstein never rationalized his feats as a reason to rest; he used them as a reason to achieve more.
Bill Gates once stated, “Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.” No matter your measure of intelligence, only a fool would stop before the finish line.
Whether your dream is to have twenty million dollars, a mansion and a sports car, or find a cure for cancer, now is the time to act. Any progress is more than no progress. If you are a student, study hard. It doesn’t matter where you go to school; you can receive a quality education. If you are stuck in a dead-end job, work for change. If you want to start your own business or learn how to speak another language, make a roadmap with points along the way.
Only you can define success, conquer your own barriers, and work for the change you wish to see. Only you have the mobility to move with purpose.
Maddie Smith is a student at Fillmore Central High School. She is one of eight area students participating in the Journal Writing Project, now in its 20th year.