I wanted to share with you today something that I had to write for class. The professor asked us to write about what our definition of success was and I never really thought about that hard until today. For me, it totally  clicked once he asked us to write about this and after I got going…I learned a really interesting thing about my definition. Hope you enjoy.

My definition of success – Integrity

 My definition of success is probably incredibly different from traditional definitions. Others will say that they are successful when they have a certain amount of money, a nice car, a big house, and the list will go on and on. However, I believe that this definition of success is shortsighted for a multitude of reasons. It may seem irrelevant and off topic, but I assure you that this story relates. There is a specific way that donkeys are trained to walk and carry equipment. The owner puts a carrot on the end of the stick and places it just out of reach of the donkey’s mouth. The donkey in turn walks after the stick constantly to get the carrot and once this is achieved, you have successfully trained a donkey. Humans, in regards to success, act incredibly similar to the donkey. We believe that once we have a fast car, a hotter girlfriend, six-pack abs, or a huge house that we are successful. The surprising this is that this definition is held by so many individuals. Unfortunately the satisfaction of success under these criteria is rarely comforting and lasting. These material objects may have been gifts received, stolen, or achieved without any real hard work. Just like the donkey, it is the chase of something that makes people believe that when they attain their material possessions, they will be happy and successful. This path is empty and never leads to true success. Throughout my short life so far, I have boiled what success means to me down to one word: integrity. I know I have been successful at something when I do what I said I was going to do. That is my formula for success. Whatever I set my mind to and say I am going to do, I know I will have been successful when I have completely finished the journey. I believe that this is different from others definitions of success because it doesn’t define a place, time, or object that will make me successful, but rather a core principle. Staying accountable to my word and cleaning up the mess I create when I break it is the most important principle in my life. Without integrity in even the smallest of things, I know that I cannot have integrity in the largest of tasks.

Growing up in a country where there are countless stories of silver linings, golden parachutes, fraud, infidelity, and many more growing negative characteristics of life has shown me first hand how I do not want to be. Life so far has given me an incredible opportunity to really take a look at how I want to live my life and who I want to be while living it. What can be difficult for me is spending time around those who do not do what they say and never acknowledging that they made a mistake. However, I just recognize that they are acting with a lack of integrity and move on. Unless I am told to keep someone accountable for their actions, I do not like making enemies with those around me. I have found that there are other ways that I can confront someone who is breaking their word without directly calling them out. For me, this path is much more conflict free and frees me of a great deal of stress. I do know one thing for a fact, and it is that people do not like being told what to do or that they are wrong. With this knowledge I have made sure that I check the purpose of what I am saying to someone before I say it.

I believe that a great deal of my definition of success comes from watching how my parents acted. My dad and mom always taught me to always be me and that I could also choose whoever I wanted to be. I think that the lesson of accountability for ones actions is one of the most valuable lessons of all. Without this lesson, I would find myself amongst those who let life happen to them, vs. making a mark on the world and creating my own life.

Keep it really simple. Do what you said you are going to do. If you can’t do it, speak up, tell those who you committed to that you are unable, and clean up the mess. Do not leave a trail of crap behind you. There are some people in your life that will always love you no matter how much you break your word…however, this is a dangerous thing to depend on. Creating habits of running away from confrontation, ignoring those around you, and being unaccountable for your actions will only come to bite you in the end. I have had personal experience with the effects of what breaking your word does…and trust me, they are not great at all.  We will all be scared in life, but that fear is a good thing. Embrace it. For me, integrity will always be my definition of success. If I have integrity with what I decide to do…since I have really big dreams…I will become my own definition of success. Whatever that looks like in 10 years is up to following my dreams. Looks like we will see.

Evan Sanders
The Better Man Project