Is wisdom knowing the difference between success and failure

Bird Droppings October 13, 2010
Is wisdom, knowing the difference between success and failure?

“Wisdom is not taught. Systems are taught. Wisdom comes from experiencing life.” James Kavanaugh, Celebrate the Sun

A friend was writing about her success as a writer in her daily blog and most responded monetarily with the old adage that money is the definitive aspect of success. I added differently using several quotes and thoughts following.

“Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out…” Robert Collier

How do we determine success and or failure for that matter? Technically within a given body of information we could establish that this or that is success and this or that is failure. Somewhere in a recent class, playing with a bell shaped curve and noting that fifty percent was average. I explained average as fifty percent are better and fifty percent are less than. In education, or I should say in many regards, we see the term below average that tends to be someone on the down side of the bell shaped curve. I was privileged to a conversation where we are going to raise the bar. It is interesting how bell shaped curves will not change fifty percent will be above and fifty percent will be below average. A student who was below average before raising the bar is still below average now. So what did raising the bar actually do?

“It’s simply a matter of doing what you do best and not worrying about what the other fellow is going to do.” John R. Amos

“You are wholly complete and your success in life will be in direct proportion to your ability to accept this truth about you.” Dr. Robert Anthony

“Success, or failure, very often arrives on wings that seem mysterious to us.” Dr. Marcus Bach

For many educators, success and failure is comparing their notes to the notes of experts and then back again and we need this here and there and that or here and there. In studies in upper New York City, children from Atlanta compare favorably and those from Southern Florida seem a bit different. Funny thing is I raised three boys, all intelligent and all different where do they lie on the bell shaped curve?

“Character is more important than intelligence for success.” Gilberte Beaux

“Ones best success comes after their greatest disappointments.” Henry Ward Beecher

I was thinking back to my own days in high school, I did not want to be in school, I really did not like high school. My grades put me about near the bottom of my graduating class. I was definitely on the bottom end of the bell shaped curve; I had my share of F’s and D’s. As I went on to college, thanks to significant SAT scores my education was really not moving well at all and my first experience as a freshman had my GPA at near record I am told, a lot less than a one on a four point scale. I was pushing the bell shaped curve to the max.

“The measure of a man’s success must be according to his ability. The advancement he makes from the station in which he was born gives the degree of his success.” Sir Walter Besant

“A young person, to achieve, must first get out of his mind any notion either of the ease or rapidity of success. Nothing ever just happens in this world.” Edward William Bok

As I sit here and review my own life had I been in today’s high school setting I would have been a statistic on the wrong end of the bell shaped curve. I have been through much in my life, each aspect built upon the past. I was at Quick Trip recently and several former students from eight years ago came up to me. Amazing it was about things we discussed in class. This was coming from students who quit school, and had been in jail numerous times. I wonder were they a success or failure. I watched the one fellow holding his baby son and he mentioned how much what we talked about meant to him. Maybe that failure was a success? How do we measure character?

“Behind every successful man there’s a lot of unsuccessful years.” Bob Brown

“The person who tries to live alone will not succeed as a human being. His heart withers if it does not answer another heart. His mind shrinks away if he hears only the echoes of his own thoughts and finds no other inspiration.” Pearl S. Buck

“The person who goes farthest is generally the one who is willing to do and dare.” Dale Carnegie

Yesterday I had a student come in with her paper on a disc granted she should have done the paper somewhere before the night it was due. I was able to salvage three of six pages. In saving her paper she had corrupted the disc and did not save to her hard drive so her groups work was lost and this was a large portion of her grade. Her teacher was very upset and she would get no credit even though I could show it was on the disc but irretrievable. Was this a success or failure? I find it interesting to say the least. What about the student who goes into an End of Course Test and Christmas trees because he knows he is failing and that grade will not change his final grade. He does affect the norm of the test which really is of no matter to him and his grade does affect the schools over all standing in a minute way but does that matter to him? So where did he fail in the taking of the test? His attitude about that class and or teacher or has he failed in that matter himself?

“To know a man, observe how he wins his object, rather than how he loses it; for when we fail, our pride supports; when we succeed; it betrays us.” Charles Caleb Colton

“To succeed means that you may have to step out of line and march to the sound of your own drummer.” Keith Degreen

As I wonder about such endeavors I think about myself have I been a success and is this where it really comes down to it. I look back at failures and defeats, be it within school or in life and business. Did those lead to another level, another direction, to where I am now? My own failures were a guide to where I am now. Is that where I will be ten years from now, a year from now? Perhaps not but at this point success is measured in the heart and soul; it is measured in character, in conviction and in whether or not to take another step.

“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

I can always fall back on Emerson. It is really is “to know life has breathed easier because you have lived”. I read that and recalled walking into the grocery store and a mother thanking me and yes, I have been successful. I started with a James Kavanaugh quote from on of his books and the following is from a website dedicated to James Kavanaugh.

“Being one of the “Searchers” of life does not mean we will have THE answer to life when we need it most. One of the common threads that run though all of the writings of Jim is that the answer comes from within and may reveal itself through the person sitting next to you on a bus or in the car next to you as you commute another day to that life sucking, dead end job from hell. We must always remember can change our world because”

Please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your hearts.

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