GOOD MORNING! Last week's edition spoke about success not being synonymous with wealth. There is more to life than having a lot of money. (By the way, in Pirkei Avot, Ethics of the Fathers, it asks, "Who is the wealthy person?" and answers, "He who is happy with his portion.")
So, what is success in life? There is a fascinating book, Lifelines -- Techniques for Nurturing Personal Growth by Avi Shulman (available from better Jewish bookstores everywhere ... or by dialing toll free to: 877-758-3242). The following ideas are drawn from Chapter 6, Defining Success.
First , we need to identify what success means to us, then identify the major areas of our life and finally create a plan to progress in these areas.
Success is defined as 'the progressive realization of a personal predetermined worthwhile goal." Life is a journey, not a destination. If one can treasure each moment, he has a lifetime of joy and accomplishment towards his goal. People identify five major areas in their lives:
- Physical well being
- Personal Finances
Each area should have a goal and a plan to reach it. Without a goal, one doesn't know where to go. Without a plan one doesn't know how to go. (It is amazing the amount of effort a human being will put in to avoid thinking, setting goals and planning).
Life is like a wheel and each major area is like a spoke. There needs to be balance in the wheel. It is true and proverbial that "one never wishes on his death bed that he spent more time at the office." On the other hand, a person may realize that his greatest joy is his family and not know how to enjoy time with his kids. It takes wisdom to balance the time and wisdom to enjoy each major area.
I know a fundraiser for a major Jewish organization. People often ask him, "Were you successful?" He invariably answers, "I am always successful ... and sometimes I also raise money." Success is a matter of attitude and appreciation for what you have and for your efforts. Ultimately, whether one succeeds is out of his hands. There is a Yiddish saying that "man plans and God laughs." We make our efforts and the Almighty gives gifts. If we appreciate that our accomplishments are gifts, then it instills within us a sense of humility and gratitude to the Almighty. It gives us perspective.
There is a sure way to achieve greatness in life -- to do a nightly cheshbon hanefesh, an accounting of what you want out of life and if you're reaching your goals. (If you don't have goals, for sure you won't reach them.) Ask yourself four questions:
- What am I living for?
- What did I do today to reach my goal?
- What did I do contrary to my goal that I need to correct?
- What can I live for that is more important/meaningful than my present goal?
Do this and you'll be a success!
Portion of the Week
This week we conclude the ten plagues with the plagues of locusts, darkness and the death of the first-born. The laws of Passover are presented, followed by the commandment to wear tefillin, consecrate the first born animal and redeem one's first born son. The Torah tells us that at some time in the future your son will ask you about these commandments and you will answer: "With a show of power, God brought us out of Egypt, the place of slavery. When Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us leave, God killed all the first-born in Egypt, man and beast alike. I, therefore, offer to God all male first-born (animals) and redeem all the first-born of sons. And it shall be a sign upon your arm, and an ornament between your eyes, for with a strong hand the Almighty removed us from Egypt." (Ex. 13:15)
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
The Torah states regarding the Pesach offering, "Neither shall you break a bone of it" (Exodus 12:46). What is the Torah coming to teach us about life from this commandment?
On Passover night as we sit at the Seder we are to envision ourselves as going out of Egypt and becoming free people. At the Seder, we are kings and queens; we dress royally, we act royally, we eat royally. Royal people do not break bones to suck out the marrow. Poor, downtrodden people must suck the bones to draw out all of the nourishment possible.
The outward action brings the inner appreciation. If you want to be free, act free. If you want to be royal, act royal. Likewise, if you want to be kind or to be charitable, then act that way. Eventually, your personality will be shaped by your actions. Life and growth are a process of deciding and then consistently acting in line with your decision. Decide and you can be!
Flatter me, and I may not believe you.
Criticize me, and I may not like you.
Ignore me, and I may not forgive you.
Encourage me, and I may not forget you.
-- William Arthur