There are defining moments in everyone’s life, some more dramatic than others. Perhaps you look back over your life thus far and see an important decision that stands out as one such moment; a decision that shaped the course of your future from there on out. Maybe it was an event, like a stroke or accident that left you or a loved one incapacitated and altered the course of the rest of your life. Some defining moments are good. Many would point to Martin Luther King, Jr’s famous “I have a dream” speech as a moment that defined not only his life, but much of the civil rights movement. Other defining moments are less illustrious. Consider the college student who killed himself in 2010 after his roommate taped him and his same-sex partner in the act. People who didn’t know anything about him at all will remember him for this. It’s a tragic defining moment. My guess is that your defining moments are somewhere in between those two extremes, but first, let’s look at some more examples.
What does success look like to you? Perhaps you think of a great career, one that pays well and has a lot of room for improvement. Maybe you think of a confident, self-assured person who carries himself well and can speak eloquently in front of crowds. Perhaps you think of someone popular, like a famous athlete or movie actor. Maybe you think of a person who earns enough to buy a lake home and a boat, who wears name brand clothes and can afford the latest technology. Most of us, whether we like to admit it or not, associate “success” with wealth. After all, we’ve been programmed to believe that “He who dies with the most toys, wins.” So let me pose another scenario: Would you consider someone a success who goes about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted, and mistreated, wandering in deserts and mountains, in caves and in holes in the ground? Does that sound like any definition of success? Honestly, no. That sure doesn’t sound like something I’d aspire to in order to be “successful.” But the answer may surprise you.