Do any of the following sound familiar: Elections in Russia, Syrian riots, the struggling euro (Greece, Spain, Italy), Iran’s “peaceful” nuclear ambitions, North Korea, Afghanistan, U.S. presidential elections, al-Qaida, Israel?

For your information, these were all headlines as we began 2012.

Care to hazard a guess as to what some of the headlines are as we begin 2013?

Aw, you guessed. Sounds like 2013 already has some notes from the cacophony of news reportage past.

Since a majority of Americans passed up a chance to have American influence contribute some harmony to the discordant international symphony, there doesn’t seem to be a great deal an individual can do at this point – watch TV propaganda (aka, mainstream media news), shake one’s head, grind the teeth and have an extra glass of wine or a tablespoon of Pepto-Bismol. Well, that’s the two-sided coin of our republic (not democracy). Our representatives are there doing what we sent them to do! Right?

Guess we may as well get on with the changing of our individual lives, since 358 days from now 2013 will be over and we will be asking ourselves questions regarding our personal headlines. Will it be another (fill in the blank) year again? You know, “shoulda, woulda, coulda”?

Granted, we can’t (make that “didn’t”) change D.C., but we can change “me.” I can change my headlines and commentary. How? Choose to be a “success” in 2013. Nope, I’m not talking about the old “resolution” trip; we’re talking re-definition here.

Check this out: In 1923, nine of the world’s most powerful and successful businessmen gathered for a high-level meeting at the Edgewater Beach Hotel in Chicago. In attendance was the president of the largest independent steel company in the country, the president of the nation’s largest utility company, the president of the nation’s largest gas company, the richest grain commodity speculator, the president of the New York Stock Exchange, a member of the White House Cabinet, the top Wall Street stock speculator, head of the world’s largest industrial cartel, and president of the Bank of International Settlements. Offhand, I’d say that pretty much sums up “got it made,” wouldn’t you agree? But that’s not the end; let’s get “the rest of the story.”

The founder and president of Bethlehem Steel died bankrupt; the utility magnet, to escape American justice, died poverty stricken in a foreign country; the commodities speculator died overseas and broke; the gas company president died in an insane asylum; the stock exchange president and the Cabinet member spent time in prison; and the Wall Street wizard, the industrial tycoon and the international financier all died by suicide.

Had I asked for a one-word description of those men, chances are, overwhelmingly, the word would have been “successful.” Yet each died an abject failure. What happened?

It’s simple. Many people live their lives trying to fulfill a flawed definition of “success.”

True success for you is what you define it to be, according to your beliefs, your values and your personal desires. While I have my own definition of success, it might not fire your imagination one bit. Each of us must decide what constitutes success in our minds, our lives. By all means, try to avoid comparisons and defining success simply in terms of money or prestige. Many people spend their lives reaching for someone else’s definition of success – a palatial home, a Bentley in the driveway, a Rolex on the wrist, a Giorgio Armani suit – but when they reach the top rung of the ladder, they discover, as Stephen Covey says, that the ladder was “leaning against the wrong wall.” (Remember those guys in the beginning? I’m sure none of them would have said, “Oh, I’ll probably end up …”)

Success must be defined by the individual for the individual. It is hard to imagine Mother Teresa behind the wheel of a Rolls-Royce. A thick investment portfolio or being voted the “Most Admired Woman in the World” was not her goal. Her definition of success was doing the work she felt called to do: “Ministry to the castoffs in the slums of Calcutta.”

By the way, God (whether or not you believe in Him) does not define success for us; He gives us a plethora of options via free will. So as you formulate your definition of success, remember you don’t have to thread the needle of God’s will. God doesn’t put you in bondage; He liberates you.

Consequently, as you look down the road at 2013, formulate your own definition of success (I would suggest a moral path honoring God), and then get on with your life!

But someone may ask, “What if I make a mistake?”

Well, what if you do? Remember ol’ Chris Columbus? He thought he was sailing to China; he never even got close. Now that is a mistake! But, look at what Columbus did discover: America! Some mistake! My advice to you is to sail on, Dude!


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