Tuesday, June 12, 2012

defining success

success, n. (suhk-ses): the favorable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavors.

How do we measure success? What is it? Merriam-Webster defines success as a "favorable or desirable outcome."In order to have success do you have to have a goal first? These definitions indicate levels of effort or tries, but in order to have success do efforts need to have a projected outcome first? If the "prosperous termination of attempts" is different than expected, do we still consider it success?

I fit in a run this morning during my nothing-officially-scheduled-therefore-not-so-busy-day-off. I am attempting a 38 day run streak, courtesy of a challenge put forth by Runner's World. It is only a mile a day (minimum), but the streak is every day from Memorial Day to Independence Day. Yesterday, I did not run (and I did not run the day I drove back from Tennessee). But I have run every other day so far! And while I am no longer officially meeting the goal of consecutive days of running, I know I had two choices after breaking the streak: keep trying or quit. I am still aiming to complete the streak between now and July 4th. I am going to call not quitting "success" even though my goal shifted during my efforts.

Last week, I gave a ranger program at the public library in Lafayette. From past experiences of giving programs at libraries, I told my co-workers "I will be happy if three show up." Public program attendance, in general, can be hit or miss. Ten showed up!
I show a short clip from the "America's Best Idea" series by Ken Burns
when I give my talk on the National Park Service.
Never mind that six of the ten were there to earn some credit for an assignment for a college course they were enrolled in and that those six were happy that I would send them verification of their attendance so they wouldn't have to write an essay on the program. The next day, one of those six attendees visited the Acadian Cultural Center "to check out her backyard national park!" Woop! Having ten percent of my audience make the effort to visit the park is how I define "success."

I am still working on defining success in my own life. I had spent so long in school, a time where grades and edits and assessments were how I defined success, that I have neglected to develop my own gauge for success.

Now to complete the rest of my today's to-do list: listen to the rain, sip my coffee, read a little, write a little, remember that using my day off to rest is its own form of success.

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