How to Leave a Legacy in a World full of Achievements
What does success mean? At what point are you considered successful?
Success is one of those words that is so often overused and filled with euphemism that we don’t really know what it means anymore.
Before ever starting this podcast, I thought I knew what success meant. It meant that I worked hard, got up when I was knocked down, refused to quit, learned from my failures, and accomplished my goal. It meant that I made my life better, that I improved who I was, and that I made money. Can you relate to any of that? Frankly, those aren’t bad things. You would be hard pressed to find people who would disagree that you were “successful” if you did any of them.
Dictionary.com defines success as:
- …the accomplishment of one’s goals.
- the attainment of wealth, position, honors, or the like.
Makes sense, right?
I agreed with this, too, but after talking to many leaders and influencers who I considered to be “successful”, I realized I was wrong. Well, not exactly wrong. I was just seeing it through the wrong perspective.
You see, all those things I mentioned were good things, but they were all focused on one thing: me. Our culture has taught us that to be considered a success, you need to measure up to a certain point. Whatever that point is, it’s certainly vague, but we all fell its presence. We all know there must be some place where we’ve “made it” – where we’ve done “enough” to be successful.
If you’re an athlete, you go pro. If you’re a singer, you go gold, or platinum. If you’re a businessman, you make your first million. And so on and so forth. When it comes to success, there is a measuring stick we’ve been given, and we strive to measure up, to reach it – whatever “it” is.
So, when we asked our guests on the podcast what success really means, I was taken aback at their responses.
It all started with Banning Liebscher. If you don’t know who he is, go look him up. You’ll quickly find the evidence of his apparent success nearly everywhere. He’s written several books, travels the world speaking to large audiences, started organizations that have made money, and the list goes on. He also started with almost nothing it terms of money and notoriety, and built his platform from the ground up. So when we asked him what it really means to be successful, his answer surprised me.
“The reality is, we don’t know how to define success outside of numbers. Someone will say, ‘How was your conference?’ Most people would say, ‘It was great. We had 3,000 come.’ 3,000 is a marker, but it’s not the true marker of success. So when someone asks me how the conference was, my honest response is, ‘I don’t know. We’ll find out in 20 years.’ I honestly don’t know yet. So, to me success means: ‘Did I love well? Did I live with faithfulness and obedience?’ That’s it.”
Wow. It seems so simple, but in the context of his life, it carries a lot of weight. What matters most in life? At what point am I successful? When I’ve loved well. When I trusted God and followed Him. That’s it. It’s not about numbers, or accolades, or achievements. It’s about love, trust, and obedience.
David and Stacy Whited, our most recent guests on the podcast, had something similar to say. To them, success is:
“That I improved the lives of those around me. I’m successful when I leave people, and places, better than when I arrived.”
You see, true success is about the lasting impact you’ve had on others. It’s not about measuring up. It’s not about reaching a goal. It’s about leaving a legacy of love, making the world around you better with you having been in it.
You know what? You don’t have to reach a certain level in life to do that – to be successful. You can do those things now. You may not know for some time, or ever, the effect you’ll have on the world around you. Do it anyway.
Love well. Be faithful. Trust.