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How Do we Measure Success?

04/23/2020 09:52:23 AM

Apr23

Rabbi Jeffrey Myers

Is success measured by the amount of money in your bank account or in your pension? Or might there be different tools that measure it? Is the new standard for success the fact that I was finally able to purchase a package of toilet tissue at a warehouse-style store after trying in vain for many weeks?

There was a humorous post on a Social Media platform that ran something like this: While April 25, 2030, might seem like an ordinary day to most of us, to Hymie Mechel, it was the day that he finally finished the toilet tissue that his parents had purchased during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sometimes success is measured by the honors one receives from others. Sometimes success is the accomplishment of a specific goal, or set of goals. For example, if there is a cure discovered for COVID-19, those who discover it would be able to call their research a success. But that does not mean that all other efforts will be for naught, as it is the collective efforts of scientists around the world that will lead to that moment. If enough people follow the protocols established to minimize the spread of the virus, we might be able to declare those measures a success. If any of us does not contract the virus, or, does so and is fortunate to survive it, that is certainly a success. 

It would be simplistic to suggest that our lives are measured by successes and failures, wins and losses, black and white. There is much in between the two that sometimes has elements of both. The metaphor that I like to suggest is that our lives are a series of connect-the-dots, moving from one thing to the next. While each dot might be a resting point that targets a success or failure, the dots don’t work unless you draw the lines to connect them. What are the lines within your life, the connectors between the successes and the lesser than successes? We will not know what the connect-the-dots portrait of our lives will become until the closing moments.  Upon looking back in reflection, what will your picture be? I hope that it won’t be “A Portrait of Dorian Gray”. Rather, it will be the humble attempt by one human being to make a small difference in the world, to leave it slightly better in some way than the way you first entered.  

Our success is in having made the picture, a dot at a time, a line at a time. It’s all in the trying. May your connect-the-dots reveal an incredible masterpiece, one worthy of a one-word description: success. 

Sun, May 24 2020 1 Sivan 5780