Wednesday, March 30, 2022

The Definition of True Success

This month I was really struggling with coming up with a blog topic. I tried looking up inspirational quotes, reading a book about tips for living your life, and some other things. I eventually found myself looking at a website of creative writing prompts. One such prompt was to flip to a random page in the dictionary and to define what one of the words on the page means to you. Under the prompt was a picture of a dictionary page and the prominent word was success, so I began thinking about what success was to me. My initial thought was that success was the same thing as achievement. It means to win or to accomplish something big. I think that this was my original definition of success. When I joined FFA my goal was to win.

I remember one of my first contests was the creed speaking leadership development event at the district level. I spent months practicing and was sure I was going to get first place. For me the only thing that was going to be considered a success was walking away with the biggest plaque. I ended up getting second place. For me this was the worst feeling ever, it made me sick to the stomach. Later in my FFA journey whenever I was asked what my biggest FFA failure was I would always answer with that experience. It wasn’t until my senior year when someone responded to my answer by asking why I thought getting second was a failure. They said that most kids would be proud of themselves for doing that good in their first public speaking contests. I began thinking of success as different then. 

The reason I didn’t consider second place as a success was because I was limiting what success was. I made it too specific, it was either fail or succeed with no inbetween. Success is more than just an end goal. It’s the journey that it takes to get there. Because I limited my success to first place only I didn’t consider the skills I’d learned, the confidence gained, or any of the things I had to overcome to get second a success. 

While trying to find a topic to talk about I read a lot of quotes about success. What I realized from all of them is that success is different for everyone. That’s been one of the hardest things to remember while being a state officer this year. For a lot of people getting last in a contest is still a success because at least they tried. For others not getting an office is success because they know what they need to improve upon for next year. It’s been hard to not fall back into my old mindset that success is only first place. I’ve found it interesting and helpful to look back at times when I have thought I failed and to find where I’ve actually succeeded, because that’s where I can find a true definition of success.

Still learning,
Tyler Kilmer

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