“The road to success and the road to failure are almost exactly the same.” Herman Melville

For most of us, our life SHIPS haven’t always sailed smoothly. We’ve all, at some point in our lives, have had to navigate choppy waters and ride some turbulent-financial, employment, health, and various other waves.  Through these experiences, we learned first hand that our best-laid plans CAN and WILL go awry and when this happens, sometimes it may leave us feeling like we’ve failed. Have you ever experienced that feeling? Are you where you think you should be in life? Is your life turning out according to YOUR plan? Mine isn’t.

Recently, a friend and I were having an honest conversation about life when I mentioned that I felt unsuccessfully successful. She was shocked. I explained that I thought I had positioned myself to be farther ahead of the game. I had graduated from college twice, worked a few good-paying jobs, attained a bunch of certifications, and thought by now, I’d be comfortably set. But, my plans sort of went awry. Because I was laid off and fired more times than I care to mention, I found myself constantly riding the unemployment wave. Let’s just say, my role model was Sally Jessy Raphael. Not because of her TV or radio shows but because she had been fired 18 times and bounced back each time with vigor.  So she was my hero!!

Yet, it was during these periods of unemployment, that I realized that the measure of success wasn’t or shouldn’t be based on the amount of money one has acquired because success is soooo much more than that. In actuality, success SHOULD be measured by how much of ourselves we’ve poured into the lives of others, how we supported and encouraged others. In Hebrews 6:10, it says “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.”  So based on this, when I changed how I viewed and measured my personal and professional failures, they became my successes.

Now, my success could be measured by the random encounter I had in the mall with a young lady who in tears told me how the advice I’d shared helped her avoid life’s pitfalls and that she was graduating from college soon. My success could be measured by the number of families that were torn apart that I helped to reunify. My success could be measured by Ithe number of crack-addicted pregnant and parenting mothers that I encouraged to enter drug treatment. My success could be measured by the number of dropouts that dropped back in and earned their GED’s. My success could be measured by the number of gang bangers and felons that I’ve hired giving them their first jobs. My success could be measured by the number of “at-risk” young ladies who told me how my decision-making workshop changed their lives. 

See failure was/is not an option for me and it shouldn’t be for you. The reality is that everyone that travels down the road of success in pursuit of their greatness WILL inevitably experience some type of failure. No exceptions. We just need to stop measuring our success with someone else’s ruler. It took me a while but I finally realized that my success was measurable by the amount of support and encouragement that I’ve poured into the lives of others and by using GOD’S measurements, I discovered that I AM and ALWAYS have been successful. So, the next time you feel UNSUCCESSFULLY SUCCESSFUL use GOD”S ruler to determine your success.

SHIP TALK: Have you ever felt like a failure? What changed?

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  1. If we go by the Bible’s definition of success it’s a much easier achievement. You are so right stuff according to the world is an example of success but it’s a false sense of success. When I say the young lady in the mall. I didn’t even recognize her. We finally figured it out. She was now 23 but I had her,…get this in my vacation bible school class when she was 11. She told me her name and I knew immediately. She didn’t pay attention, or so I thought. But to have her in tears share how I poured into her life was amazing. Just think, the encounter in the bathroom gave these young ladies some encouragement and motivation. Thanks for sharing that story. While writing this last night, I realized that authenticity is required if I want this blog to be successful. So I’ll be addressing some of my own issues while pouring into the lives of others.

  2. Success? Defined by man in various ways.
    By stuff,Money,Cars the more cars the more I appear successful.The crowd (I’m in the know now).The way one dresses or looks. The dictionary associates success with prosperity. Success can trample over and create unsuccessful situations. We all have measured our success by the ruler of others. I gained so much success as it relates to family, and support. It moves me right out of that path where others make you feel unsuccessful. I look at all the lives touched by my nursing experience, how important it means to me pouring into the lives of young nurses. I had an encounter about 4 weeks ago at a local restaurant. I had completed my meal and went into the ladies room. While washing my heads I said to a young girl, “Wow, you wash your hands like a nurse, had you considered nursing? She said no, just as she said no her friend said “I am, Is it hard,” This encounter invoke edification, and pouring into her life, That’s success. The joy of seeing smiles in others who need a word. Valerie thank you excellent blog. You are right on point.

  3. Thanks. Sometimes we get caught up in the definition of success which isn’t a good measurement. Most people equate it to the acquisition of stuff but it really is how we treat others and when we master that skill, we are what true success looks like.

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