Many of us have had to make decisions as we travel through life. We become frustrated with our decisions in college, work, business, and other situations. We felt that we arrived at success only to start again. The frustration comes from viewing success as an actual destination. According to John Maxwell, in his book, The Success Journey, success is simply a journey, not a destination. Today, I will define success, discuss life-changing circumstances that tend to hinder our success, and finally, relate stories of two women who were faced with adversity, who instead of living defeated lives, chose to live successfully.
Success is a journey where you acquire skills overtime and know your purpose in life. Everyone has a purpose in life and everyone is on his/her own success journey. Failures and disappointments are catalysts to your success. You have a goal and you have decided to accomplish it regardless if you fail and become disappointed. When we view success from the angle of wealth, possessions and power, we are assuming that everyone should arrive at success this way. Some people are not always happy even with wealth, and we hear of traumatic incidents with people having wealth. Those incidents happened to people because they failed to know what their purposes in life were. Others have life-changing circumstances that hinder their growth and goals.
Life-changing circumstances could include an empty nest, where children have left for college, a divorce, loss of a job, a failure of a business, past abuse by family members, lengthy sickness of a loved one, a death of a loved one; they may tend to cause people to stop pursuing their dreams. According to John Maxwell, these failures or disappointments are catalysts to success. This means that your failure or disappointment should give you an opportunity to be successful at something else. Although we are human beings and we feel pain, we must rise to the occasion and move forward to success. We are given this life to make a difference in the life of others and if we become depressed, sluggish, or inactive, we simply cannot know our purpose in life and achieve success.
The following stories relate to two women who have touched my life in significant ways and whose disappointments changed the course of history and they not only touched other lives but became success stories.
I first saw this story as a documentary on television. It’s about Jessica Long who came from Bratsk Siberia. She was one of several siblings, who at the age of 13months, was orphaned in Russia, because her parents could no longer care for her because she had a rare illness called Fibular Hemimelia. Her lower legs were amputated when she was 18months, but that did not prevent her from being adopted by an American couple from Baltimore, Maryland. Living as a double amputee, Jessica began swimming and became a gold-medalist with 13 or more world records that she received in the Paralympic sports. Her success did not end there. Jessica’s purpose in life was to go back to her roots, that she never knew, and reunite with her parents and siblings. Without hate for her parents or siblings, without the pain of abandonment, but with joy, she finished her journey by re-uniting with her parents and siblings, and was able to assist them financially.
Joni Erickson Tada, at the age of 17 loved to ride horses. She also enjoyed swimming and went to swim with some friends and thinking that the lake was deep, dove right into a shallow lake and broke her neck, paralyzing her body from the neck down. For two years she stayed in rehabilitation wondering how she would make it. She contemplated suicide and asked her friends to help. Her hopes were gone; she didn’t want to live. She found a friend in the rehab that helped her find the answers to her questions in the Bible. Joni went on to get married and she and her husband traveled everywhere telling her story. She wrote books using a pen in her mouth. She has written over 13 books. Although she felt helpless, she knew her purpose, which was telling her story and bringing the gospel to others.
I want to encourage you, that whatever you are going through, know that the situation cannot change who you are, and cannot alter your purpose. Success is not a destination, but a journey, which comes about when you know your purpose and when you can rise up to every challenge that comes your way.