Sometimes, as we start out in adult life, we may not feel like much of a success. Our society frequently defines success as the material goods and lifestyle secured by large amounts of money earned over a long period of time. We tend to think success is something that occurs only later in life. However, this belief may impede us from achieving success even then. Success takes practice, and successful people start practicing when they are young!
Think about it for a moment. A musician must practice diligently to become a virtuoso. A medical doctor studies for many years and interns for an additional period of time prior to beginning a viable practice. An athlete trains long hours before becoming a star. Likewise, it takes practice to experience success in life. If you want to feel like a success, it is important for you to begin to acknowledge your successes right now.
Many times the things at which we’re naturally gifted are the hardest for us to claim as a success. We may make statements like, “If I can do it so easily, why can’t everyone else? If I can do it, it cannot be that hard!” It is important to listen to the acknowledgment we receive from parents, teachers, employers, and friends. Don’t brush it off as if they’re just being nice. They may be telling you, “You are a success right now!” Answer with a sincere “Thank you.” There is no need to say anything else. Making disparaging remarks about yourself or your performance can be false modesty and negates the compliment that was given to you.
Occasionally, when a compliment is delivered with some criticism, you may be tempted to give up. You may feel that since nothing you do is good enough, why bother to try. Don’t give in to those feelings. Many people, especially your family, may have a difficult time making it clear that they appreciate your talent and are supportively behind you. Although they may want you to develop your skill to the best of your ability, it might be difficult for them to express this feeling in words. And if they take time to point out your mistakes, they may be really saying, “I know you can do better that this. I care and I want to help you.”
We are often our own harshest critics, and we have a tendency to hear only criticism from others and not their praise. It is important to practice hearing both compliments and constructive remarks from those who have good advice to offer. As you begin to recognize and build on the success you’re experiencing now, you may discover that this is a feeling you can create again and again in various aspects of your living.
Whenever anyone says to you, “Good work!” think to yourself, “Yes, it is good work. I am successful with this.” A swelled head is never helpful, of course, but to acknowledge your gifts is not necessarily self-indulgent, especially if you recognize you couldn’t have achieved success without the support and guidance of others—like parents, teachers, friends, and co-workers. If they comment, “Okay, but you might do better,” realize you may have more to give, and receive this advice with an open mind and heart. Determine to do your best. You are the one who will benefit.
A story is told about a little boy who called at a house selling picture postcards for a quarter each. The man who answered his knock asked the lad what he was going to do with the money he earned.
“Oh,” he said, “I’m raising $100,000 for our new church building.”
The startled customer responded, “Do you expect to raise it all by yourself?” The young man answered with a straight and serious face, “Oh, no, sir. There’s another little boy helping me!” This young man had the spirit of success at an early age!
Knowing right now—feeling inside right now—that you’re successful, whether you’re a singer in the church choir, a waitress in a restaurant, the coach of the softball team, or the budding mechanic spending every spare moment in the garage rebuilding the engine of that antique car, can prepare you for greater and greater success. Success is not a one-time event. It can be an accumulated series of wins and other experiences that create a successful life.