“Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.”
~ Albert Einstein
I’ve tried to digest today’s inspirational quote in it’s entirety, and before I post my thoughts on this, I feel it’s important to define each of these words as they apply to my thoughts since both words are subjective in their ultimate meanings.
Dictionary.com defines both words in the following context:
- Success is “the attainment of wealth, position, honors, or the like.”
- Value is the “relative worth, merit, or importance” of something.
I’ve certainly experienced success as it’s defined here. I’ve graduated from college with honors. Been successful in my career. Attained high honors in the military when I served. I even make a decent living (not wealthy, but not broke either). However, for me, this doesn’t truly define my idea of success, and this definition doesn’t relate to value in any way for me.
I think what this quote espouses is that, to be a success, you must provide value to those around you. Not necessarily in monetary fashion either. My money doesn’t provide value to my fellow human being. My achievements don’t enrich the lives of my fellow human beings. These things are not the source of true value.
True value, for me, is helping others. It’s feeling compassion for someone else. And not just feeling it, but acting on that compassion. Whether that’s through volunteer work, paying for someone’s groceries that your standing in line with who clearly could benefit from my generosity, taking a meal to a stressed or sickly friend, or taking care of an aging parent so that they aren’t tucked away in a nursing home and forgotten.
Personal worth and success goes beyond material things. It means that you care more. Try harder. Feel the pain of others. Act for the benefit of someone else without expectation. If we all did that, imagine what a wonderful place this world would be.