Measuring Success

When I was a kid, success was an easy thing to measure. You got an A. Usually that meant you understood the material as it was taught, or at the very least, could regurgitate it for the test. Your team won. You got a trophy, a fancy certificate, a pat on the back.

Things have changed. I look at my son’s report card, and I need to consult the legend to figure out what all these letters mean. Every time. And he’s in 3rd grade. You’d think I’d get it by now, but it just doesn’t make sense to me.

Why can’t we give a kid an “A” anymore? Why does everyone get a trophy? Everyone wins? I don’t think so.

Life isn’t fair. Sometimes you lose. You’re going to fail. Over and over. That’s how you learn.

But I digress…

As adults, how do we know when we’ve “arrived?” Do you judge success by how many Facebook friends you have, or how many people favorite your tweets? Does your annual salary count for anything? The car you drive? What you did last Friday night?

Does it really matter what anyone else thinks?

Of course the easy answer is no. And we’d like to believe that. The truth is, we do care what other people think. And it’s a shame. Do you even like those people? Why are we so concerned with what total strangers think of us?

Here’s how I judge success:

I set goals. I do my best to achieve them. I fail. I get back up and I do it again.

Did you see anyone else’s opinion in there? Nope! Because the only person’s opinion that really matters is mine.


It seems every time I go out for a long run, I come back with a word…well a few of them actually. Call it whatever you want.

A message from God. A revelation. Deep thoughts. I’m not looking to get into a spiritual discussion here.

It’s never anything terribly profound. I’m not solving the world’s problems or anything. But it’s always something I need to hear at that moment. And, although I’ll likely forget all the other things I thought about during the miles, it is the one thing I can recall. Word for word.

I NEVER share these. I’m not that person standing on the street corner handing out pamphlets about the end-times. The only reason I’m sharing this one is that I need your help with it. So here we go.

Two weeks ago I ran a 50k. For training fun. My schedule called for the same mileage over the course of the weekend, so I figured I’d just knock it all out at once.

Yes. I know how crazy that sounds. I’m OK with it.

At mile 20, I was struck with this:

The only thing coming between you and success is your own pride.

Get out of the way.

And it’s true. I am both a perfectionist and a procrastinator. Great combo. If I can’t do something “right,” I’ll just stall until either I can, or I’ve run out of time to do any better and I live with the sub-par result. My pride always gets in the way. I don’t want anyone to see me vulnerable. It stresses me out to no end.

Well it’s time to build a bridge and get over it. Time to be content with just being me. Because by my measure, I’m successful.

And that’s the only one that matters.

Tomorrow’s news: Finding Inspiration