Redefining Success

Good morning, everyone!

With the extra time off for the summer I am experimenting with different writing topics and maybe a few extra posts. I will continue to post on Monday and Thursday since that is my regular schedule but you may see more posts with different topics as I experiment with what I want to do with my blog and what I can keep up with once the school year starts back in full swing.

One thing that I have found on my mind recently is the idea of what it means to be successful. It is natural to want to have success. Anything worth doing is worth doing well and we all want to know that we have contributed in a positive way to this world. Not to mention it is good to know that we have a roof over our head and that our bills are paid. ūüôā

When I was a young girl there was only one late night TV talk show, Late Night with Johnny Carson. Everyone who was anyone would at some point be Johnny’s guest. Stars would come on and talk with Johnny about their latest projects and everyday lives like they were old friends of Johnny’s and we were all listening in on the conversation. Since I played the flute and music was my main means of self-expression as a teenager, I believed success meant being another Jean-Pierre Rampal or James Galway and stopping by to chat with Johnny. ¬†As I progressed as a flute player and in education it didn’t take long to figure out that even in a small pond there were bigger fish than myself. Needless to say, me and Johnny would not become friends.

As I moved from my teen years and into my 20’s the social consciousness and political activism ¬†that had been the background of my youth underwent a big change. Hippies turned into Yuppies and it seemed everywhere I looked my peers were becoming Young Urban Professionals. This, of course, was not my personality and I am sure everyone around me could see I was not meant to be a big shot in the corporate world, but boy did I try. ¬†Michael J. Fox’s character of Alex P. Keaton was beloved by millions and the movie Wall Street with Michael Douglas was a movie that spoke to the times. Everywhere I looked my friends and peers seemed to be making a name for themselves. ¬†These were dark years for my self-confidence and I floundered trying to find a place to fit in a world where everyone else seemed to be succeeding in law, medicine, business, and technology. I was grasping at straws and failing miserably.

Slowly, very slowly, I began to find my voice. I realized that I want to work with people and help them reach their fullest human potential. I am meant to be of service wherever service is needed. I am and educator and a musician with a creative nature. I am not exceptional in my individual talents and yet when I combine my talents, I  am unique enough to make a difference in my little corner of the world.

Now, as I progress through my 51st year of life,  I have a very different idea of what it means to be successful than when I was 15, 25. or even 35. Today I measure my success with the following questions:

  1. Am I being of service to others?
  2. Am  showing a better way of life with my words and actions?
  3. Am I continuing to learn and grow as an individual?
  4. Am I a kinder more compassionate person today than I was a year ago?
  5. Am I forgiving myself and treating my shortcomings with compassion?
  6. Am  being encouraging or judgemental?
  7. Am I bringing out the best in other people?

My questions for success can be applied to any occupational field and go beyond career choice. They address the way I approach my career and the way I live my life. I will tell you that I often fall short of my personal ideals and often the answer to my questions is no. What I have learned is that we all fail dozens of times a day. What makes us successful and grow as individuals is that we keep on trying.

Some of you know I am switching schools next year. Before summer vacation started I received numerous ” we will miss you ” statements from the kids. That is to be expected and a great benefit of being a teacher! ¬†Unexpectedly, since summer has started, I have received several emails from former students. One student is starting high school and wanted to know if I remembered her. ( Of course, I did.) She went on to tell me how much I meant to her when she was in elementary school and how music has helped her get through rough times in her life. Another email was from a little girl going into the 4th grade. She told me how much she was going miss me and ” because of me she knew she could use music anytime and anywhere to make her life better.” Now that is success!

As always, I would love to hear from you. How do you define success for yourself?

Thanks for stopping by the blog!

Until next time,




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