Daring to be the best you can be. You can choose “greatness” & perform “noble deeds”. A message to everyone on achieving favorable outcomes in general as well as prospering with God’s help. Prosperity & success smell sweet! Everyone loves a winner.
DARE TO SUCCEED!! I love the way Steve Maraboli (who professionally tries to inspire people to succeed) teaches people to grab some courage & succeed. He says, “When times are tough, dare to be tougher.” “When life beats you down, dare to fight back.” Only people who are “crazy” enough to think they can change the world for the better end up doing it. Of course, you can be safe & run with the herd, but you will be mediocre & will be practicing “nothing ventured, nothing gained!”
YOU WIN SOME, YOU LOSE SOME…SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE FAIL. Christ enters the little town of Chorazin (now called Kerazeh in Arabic) & none of his success follows him.(A) I mention this to make several points: first, you have my permission to fail, many great & successful people have; second, both success & failure are not final, there are more chapters to your life; and thirdly, what seems to be failure may not be. I like what Edison said about this, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” The experience we gain from discovering what doesn’t work can become the foundation for building something better that does work successfully. On the flip side, success can produce arrogance & pride…& pride goes before the fall. Success can create mind traps (blind us) to where we don’t know when to drop a failing cause, and so we blindly escalate our commitment & losses. Success is a complicated thing, and I reject the idea that a simple formula will guarantee you success. I reject 33rd degree Freemason Norman Vincent Peale’s idea (used as a title to his book) that “You can, If You Think You Can”. He teaches that self-trust is the first requirement to success. Of course, everyone can see that self-doubt is not as positive for success as confidence & self-trust, but when we look at a picture we don’t just look at a corner of it, but we look at the whole picture. So it is with success.
MIND TRAPS OF SUCCESS…EXAMPLES FROM HISTORY. Churchill wins WW2, but immediately loses at the ballet box. One type of success does not guarantee another kind of success. Next WW2 example… Hitler has one of the most incredible winning streaks in history…he wins several detached former German territories back, then he succeeds sequentially in Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Denmark, Norway, Netherlands, Belgium, France, the Channel Islands, Yugoslavia, Greece, Crete, etc… Many of these successes have relatively no losses. (Yes there were some costly exceptions: Norway was expensive to the navy & Crete was exorbitant to the Fallshirmjaeger.) This success generates a winning confidence all through the German military. They invaded the USSR with confidence, but the USSR was a totally different entity to attack than a Western European nation. One type of success does not guarantee a similar type of success in different circumstances. This success mind-trap catches individuals & businesses every day. Whatever we are doing, we must watch out for one of the mind-traps of success, which is to forget about caring for others. We need to take time to continue to care for & nurture others. People are where it is at….Another lesson from Hitler’s invasion of Russia: Millions of potential military recruits were lost to Hitler & his armies because they were not prepared to care & nurture the various groups of people who hated Stalin & the communist party. Instead, their success had gone to their heads & bred arrogance. Many Russians were driven into becoming partisans, due to their neglect by the pride of the German military. The partisans became a serious drain on rare German supplies getting to the front. So don’t forget that there are costs, possible traps and other dangers to success. Our strengths become our weaknesses. Success can blind one to the dangers of past weaknesses or flaws that were not critical to the initial success, but are lurking like landmines to undo our roll of successes. The shortcomings of many types of successful German military equipment (incl. their panzers) got exposed in Russia. (The history of the titanic Russo-German struggle of WW2 has many other examples to teach us on the principles of success, too many for this brief article.)
THE POSITIVES OF FAILURE. The lessons which can be learned from failures can protect us when success comes. Many successful people who achieved it too easy end up crashing (having destructive events wiping all their successes out). Some temporarily successful people become complacent, resist new realities, and fall into dangerous self-satisfied comfort zones. Their imbalances & disorders are accidents waiting to happen. Large lottery winners usually end up disasters over the long run. Authentic success is a blessing from God and often is granted to us after hard work, humility and talent show that we deserve it & can appreciate it. The resistance we struggle against can build & improve us. Healthy competition is good. “All things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose…” ROM 8:28. The way God uses adversity to fashion us into better, more successful people would take a book to break down. So don’t run from risks, costs, and hard work. Many people misinterpret difficulties as God’s signal to quit!
WE ALL HAVE EXPERIENCED HOW SUCCESS CAN BREED SUCCESS by creating self-confidence, a contagious can-do passion, & by creating a positive momentum. Our successful thinking becomes self-fulfilling prophecy. Believing in one’s self, inspires others to do the same. Similar to…if you can’t love yourself, why should others? We are all divinely blessed that God loved us first, & doesn’t wait for us to love ourselves. Christ came to give us life, & a more abundant life(B)…he wants us to prosper. We are not alone in our desire to succeed. In fact, I see many Christians working against God & impeding—even rejecting– the success He wants to bless them with. Likewise, there is a man in my area who is exceptionally competent at fixing anything, but he dislikes people…he is repeatedly offered jobs, but rejects them all. Many controlled experiments have been done to determine if success can really breed success. For instance, what happens if students are given success to begin with, will that initial success continue to propel them ahead of students who are not granted initial success? [The results are mixed.] Over 300 new West German companies were monitored in regards to various criteria of success.(C) In the long haul, how did initially successfully innovative companies compare with companies that experienced failure to begin with? In this long term West German study, success did breed success. However, in many situations & tests, the results have not supported the common proverb… in part because there are so many ideas of what success is. History is full of examples of people who were highly successful, and did not realize it, and vice-versa. More reason to reject the pride & arrogance that can come from success.
SUCCESS BREEDS SUCCESS… BIBLICAL STYLE: “For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.” (D) One way to study principles of success is to study the lives of successful Biblical characters, such as Gideon, Abraham & Deborah; this is something my posts have done from time to time.
SUCCESS AS A BLESSING FROM GOD. The word “success” is an English word, the Hebrew part of the Word of God used what is translated “prosperity” and “to prosper”. When the Lord was with someone, He could make all that they did to prosper. (E) So this observation was recorded of people who sought the Lord, “God made him to prosper.”(F) God said that if the covenant made with Him was kept, the doer would “prosper in all that you do”.(G) And history records such prosperity happening. A Christian woman close to me in her ‘60s just had success in an area of her life that had always seen failure. The point is that you are never too old for success. Peale’s book (previously referred to) tells the story of Col. Sanders of KFC fame, who at 65 was considered a failure, yet became a well-known success story by 80. The restaurant he had tediously built up was put out of business when he was 65 because the highway that ran by it was re-routed. I agree with Peale’s assessment…you are not defeated until you admit it & quit trying. And like I say, sometimes we need to admit defeat, and move on to better opportunities. With the power of God to bless us in the mix, our age may become a minor factor in achieving success.
I’LL LET GOD’S WORD HAVE THE FINAL SAY. (I believe wisdom that has stood the test of thousands of years, certainly has much to offer us short-time newcomers! I think of how the World has been impressed with Amish success, like their business success, & I think how the Amish apply God’s laws to their ways. Others have also credited their success to the Torah’s wisdom.) “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly. Nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day & night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in season, whose leaf shall not whither; and whatever he does shall prosper.” PSALM 1:1-3.
REFERENCES. (A) MT 11:21, LK 10:13…in MT 11 Christ lists other towns that were able to resist positive miracles, reject success. (B) JN 10:10 (C) Flaig & Stadler, art. “Success Breeds Success: The Dynamics of the Innovation Process” in Empirical Economics, 1994, Vol. 19, Issue 1, p. 55-68. (D) MT 13:12, 25:29, MK 4:25, LK 8:18 (E) GEN 39:3 (F) 2 CHR 26:5, 2 CHR 32:30 (G) DT 29:9, 1 CHR 22:13, 2 CHR 20:20