What is Success? A Practical Guide to Home Education – Planning Ahead (Part 5)

Last week we discussed whether a higher education meant a better chance at success.

Needless to say, industry insiders will certainly encourage you to continue to bring education money to, or spend your money at, their institution of higher learning, so there will be no end to equating more education to greater success.

There are two questions that beg asking here. The first is, what do they mean by success? The second is, who do they honestly have in mind when talking of this success!

There is a joke that often circulates within teachers’ circles that goes like this. In the school system the B students are encouraged to better themselves by going to university to learn from the A students, so that they can be qualified to work for the D student, who saw through the school charade, quit school and started a business. Ha! Ha!

This simply does not go with the thinking that a higher education means greater success, yet it may not be that far from the truth.

You must understand that school will always promote school as the only way to succeed as this translates into success for the industry, if not necessarily for you. It is also important to understand that those who went to college will measure success through their personal experience.

The “D student” shows us that success does not necessarily follow greater amounts of school. Not that the “D student” isn’t intelligent. He is just not playing within industry expectations. Success in this case is disconnected from schooling maybe, but not from learning.

An old friend of mine often said that this or that person had done well for themselves. What was his measuring stick? There are a number of things used to measure success, but since he was a high profile university professor, he measured success by titles, placements, or prestige.

For instance, in his mind, a principal had done better than a mere classroom teacher and the ultimate success within the teaching industry was reached if one “climbed” to superintendency, whether or not the individual demonstrated competence.

A lot of people measure success by the size of the pay cheque. Mathematically and financially this makes sense, but does it really translate into greater levels of success? Are the wealthy more contented?

Some, especially those who have a natural affinity for entertaining, will use fame as a measure of success. Occasionally, when not that successful on merit alone, some may even resort to notoriety as a form of being “famous” which in their eyes is success.

Yet others, and I must admit that this is hardly a good measure of anything, will deem themselves successful through the uniform required by a position. In their world, if you ranked for the uniform, be it trousers with a stripe down the leg, a special vest or a particular headdress, you have made it!

All these measures, and I am sure there are others as well, may indeed have the trappings of success, but are they really?

Is it possible that one could have a great title or placement and still not be successful? Will prestige, or fame, or some particular wardrobe do it? What about money? Surely more is… better?

While the world advances a vertical view of success where the university educated look down upon the college educated, who in turn look down on the trades and so on, God sees things differently. He has a horizontal view of importance, not based on the world’s definition of success, but on how well you use your talents. Every job or career is important to Him.

Perhaps I live a sheltered life, dealing mostly with fearfully independent people who have opted to do the job of educating their children themselves. However, in my experience, clothing, money, fame, titles, positions, prestige, or anything else, for that matter, should not be advanced as measures of success.

There is really only one thing nearly every parent desires for their child. For those who do not acknowledge God as part of their lives, happiness within a career is the measure of success.

For those who seek God in their lives, serving Him with all their heart, soul, mind and strength is the ultimate goal, which, incidentally, leads to happiness.

Both are saying the same thing. As mentioned before, there are only two possible careers: the right one, leading to success and happiness, or the wrong one that doesn’t.

Do you not think there are people in high places, with big titles, lots of prestige, money and fame, who should be five times successful by the world’s standards, yet who are miserable?

If we use the world’s standards to measure success, we will not likely find peace, as every measure is a comparison to someone else. There will always be those who are greater and those who are lesser than you, but there will never be another you.

You will only be happy if you are doing something that makes use of, or highlights, your strengths. You will only be happy if your career has you giving something to someone else.

Sure, you may be getting paid, maybe even paid well, but unless your day to day activities contribute to someone else’s success, your success will be shallow.

I do realize that the measure I have given you is based on faith. Perhaps the world doesn’t see it the way I do. However, let me ask you a question and you can decide for yourself what should be used to measure success.

Imagine you are on your deathbed with days, maybe hours, left to your life on earth. What do you think will be on your mind? The title you had? The placement you occupied? The prestige of your position? Your clothing, fame or fortune?

Or do you think that how you loved and served God, your spouse, your children and your fellow man, might occupy your thoughts?

If relationships are what matter at death, I can guarantee you that they are what matter in life, and likely the best measure of success there is.

If your career improves your relationship with God and others, you will be happy. If so, you are likely in the right place. This is the best measure of success.

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