How should we define success?


As a sports writer, I like to think that things in life are fairly simple. You either win or lose, succeed or fail. Sports makes it easy to determine that, because there is an official scorekeeper, and you can usually tell if you defeated your opponent.

Unfortunately, life isn’t always like that — and I don’t know if things would be better if they were.

Like many children do, I look up to my father. He and I do not have too many things in common, but the older I become, the more I see similarities between us. I have learned what success means from my dad, and it was a lesson that began for him here on Brigham Young University campus.

My dad was accepted to BYU and started here in 1979, lived at Deseret Towers just like I did, and spent a year studying before serving a mission in France. He came home, switched his major, married the only girl he ever took on a date, graduated with a degree in French and enrolled in North Carolina State to finish a degree in business management. Sounds pretty great, right?

School was hard for my dad. His father, my Grandpa Lewis, was a very successful man. He owned his own engineering firm, had served in public office, and had high expectations for his children. My father’s brothers — and eventually a brother-in-law — worked to be a doctor, a lawyer, a neurosurgeon and a history professor. My uncles have all gone on to have very successful post-graduate careers in the industry of their choice.

My father has worked at a variety of jobs. He worked at a call center in Washington, D.C., when I was young. I remember going along and helping my dad stock vending machines when we moved to Colorado. He worked at a software design company for ten years before purchasing a window coverings business in Denver while I was on my mission in 2008. The journey to business owner wasn’t a linear path for my father, and there were times when money was tight.

Does this mean that my uncles were more successful than my father? No.

They are all excellent examples of fathers. They love their children, provide for their families, and are devoted to their spouses. My dad taught me how to be a disciple of Christ, encouraged me to be a good student, and motivated me to receive a college education. He helped me to develop an appreciation for all the blessings, big and small, in my life.

I have learned to take joy in “smaller” successes of life. For example, I am happy when I reach the top of the stairs from the Richards Building to campus. Last year I had to get knee surgery, and the climb was very difficult to make for a couple months. I don’t expect other people to find inner peace shortly after coming out of the tunnel, but for me, it’s a success. In my mind, I’m a world-class stair climber on top of the world.

Life is not about seeing who can earn the most titles around their name, or have the largest bank account, or drive the fanciest car. Those things are nice, and they are commendable goals to have in life. But that’s not what we should treasure in life.

“Lay not up for yourselves treasure upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also,” Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:19–21).

Let’s try to make an effort to have a winning record in the columns of life that really matter.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email