The ideal of success in today’s culture is about directing us toward more vain pursuits. For instance, success is measured in making more money than others, climbing the corporate ladder, or being the person who others talk about.
Truly, our model for success is flawed.
I know this on a personal level. The more I lived according to society’s definition of success, the more I was chasing after things for my own gratification. For instance, I was pursuing a job that would give me a better title and the money to back that title up, not a job that was for helping people prosper.
It wasn’t until I began intentionally living like Jesus that I realized how my idea of success was inherently flawed.
We have to redefine success as a selfless life of impact, not a life that simply accomplishes a lot for personal sake.
Yet in our society of “do everything” and “be the best person,” it’s difficult to move against the grain of what our culture teaches us about success.
If we are truly going to embrace a more selfless life, here’s how we have to redefine success:
1. Money isn’t the result of success.
In the greater culture, we are taught to measure success by how much money we obtain. But in living selflessly, we might not make that much money for our efforts. The better measure is how much impact we make in people’s lives, and sometimes, that doesn’t always yield the most money.
2. You don’t have to be a work-a-holic.
Our current model of success teaches that work is the most important thing in your life. Because of this, successful people are often work-a-holics. But selfless living measures success with people, so that means we prioritize people over work. We don’t have to be glued to our work to live selflessly; we can take a break and impact people in other ways, like grabbing a cup of coffee with them.
3. It’s not about impressing anyone.
Success from society’s standard comes with applause. We know we’re successful when others are impressed. But this isn’t the case with selfless living. Sometimes, when you’re living selflessly, others might not approve because it doesn’t bring in the most money. Yet, when you truly live for others, you’ll find that what they think of you doesn’t matter as much as how they’re impacted by you.
4. Stress is an enemy, not a constant companion.
Successful people in our society often take pride in their stress and busyness, because it means they’re productive. They treat stress as an unavoidable reality to success. But when you’re living selflessly, you understand that stress only causes you to focus on yourself more. Because of this, you attempt to strike stress at the source when it tries to overwhelm your life.
5. It’s not about beating out the competition.
When you’re living the selfless life, you’re committed to a cause that helps people. Committing to the cause means that if someone else is also committed to sharing that cause, you help and support them. Society’s current model of success tries to ensure that your message is heard over their message. But the selfless life is about helping those who are in our field so that we can collaborate to make a difference together.
6. Not about how much you get done, but what you get done.
I oftentimes feel guilty when I don’t get the most amount of work done in my day. Yet, the selfless life understands it’s more about what you do, not how much you do. For instance, you can have a meaningful day of being there for someone who needs you and not getting any work done. It’s o.k. to not get work done always, just as long as you substitute that time with living for others.
7. How you relate to people is the most important part about you.
Success in society values production, but the selfless life values character. This is because the selfless life is about impacting the lives of people, and you can only do that once you relate with people on a personal level.
Truly, the best legacies are not made by people who choose to throw themselves in their work, but by people who choose to throw themselves in the mess of people’s lives.
Success, from the selfless perspective, is about people more than it is about achievement. If you want to embrace this perspective and live as Jesus did, it’s time you commit to leaving a better legacy—one where you prioritize people over profit. That’s how the selfless view of success differs.
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