Ode to the restless: Redefining success

Image: Steve Richey

What do you think about when you think of the word ‘success’? Most of us have romanticized the word to mean some giant, final resting place way off in the distance, but just achievable enough to keep your mouth watering.

We’ve tweaked the meaning of this word just enough to turn it against ourselves (I think the Illuminati did it — just saying…).

Look it up. The root meaning of the word is:

1530–40; < Latin successus, equivalent to succēd-, stem of succēdere to succeed

‘To succeed.’ And when we look at the verb ‘succeed’, we see…

to come next after in an order or series, or in the course of events; follow.

To succeed is to move the needle forward. Constantly.

Succeed just means ‘next’. Next in succession. That’s pretty much it. But instead, we see it as some sort of resting place. Like, once we get there, we’ll be good to go.

Man, if I could just get my health, wealth, relationships, and self-expression to a certain optimum place, I can kick back and just glide.

Negative.

We humans are endlessly restless. We’re wired to evolve. We must. Keep. Going.

Elbert Hubbard nailed it when he said…

There is no such thing as complete success. After every achievement comes the voice, ‘Arise, and get thee hence, for this is not thy rest!’ So we never arrive, but always we work, we struggle, we strive, and this continual endeavor is all there is of life. But when we work, study, play and laugh, flavoring all with love, we have found the key to the situation.

So, great, you’re probably saying. I’ve now totally ruined your concept of success. Basically just told you that no matter what you do, it won’t be enough because you’ll always want more. So what’s the point?

The point is being aware of it and to just keep going.

If it weren’t for this restless demon inside us, no one would create anything worth sharing. It takes a certain discomfort for us to get off the couch and try to move people. Or make things better. Or make ourselves better.

Taken in the right perspective with a strong dose of self-awareness, our restlessness can be a blessing, not a curse.

So, here’s to you, fellow restless travelers. If you go on knowing that the next rest stop is never the final rest stop, you won’t be disappointed. Hell, you may even enjoy each rest stop along the way. Maybe you’ll grab a Big Gulp and a Slim Jim for the road and enjoy the sunrise over flap jacks before setting out on your next big haul.

It’s an open road that never ends.


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