STONE: What is success?

Last month, I had the honor in speaking at the University of Texas-Permian Basin College of Nursing Pinning Ceremony. If you haven’t been to one of these ceremonies, it is a very symbolic event in which graduating nurses make their pledge to the nursing profession, transitioning from student to nurse. Each of the new nurses are presented with a pin, by their respective faculty and recite the Nightingale Pledge vowing their commitment to the profession and in serving others, putting their patients’ needs first and foremost above all else. The swell of pride in that room, on that evening, was one to cherish. It certainly gave hope that our future, evidenced by these amazing men and women, are about to enter into a profession in serving others.

As we take time today reflecting upon the past year and hopefully challenging ourselves toward a better New Year, I offer the heart of my speech given to those graduating nurses on that December evening. You see, that speech most certainly congratulated them on accomplishing a very worthy goal, but it focused intentionally on what the true measure of success is, being a better human being. Each one of us has our own definition of success, but what do you, as a person, want to be known for? Hopefully part of that internal inventory check includes making sure success is measured in moments, rather than miles. So here are just a few, take them or leave them, love them or hate them. But whatever you do, be the best human being you can be to make a positive difference this New Year and beyond:

  1. Success is learning from your mistakes and making yourself better from these experiences. For bonus points, also learn from your colleagues and mentors’ mistakes. History is a very powerful tool if used accordingly.
  2. Success is waking up on your day off to volunteer at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter for those in need, even when doing so is inconvenient.
  3. Success is practicing what you preach: is your lifestyle that of what you are asking others to do themselves? Stay fit or get fit, eat right, workout (a lot), and ditch the soda. Your health is dependent on improving the health of others; take care of you, so you can take care of them.
  4. Success is being committed to your family; jobs can come and go, but family is everything. Be the rock they need you to be, because chances are they have been the rock you’ve needed during tough times. If they haven’t, still be the better person and be a rock. Make time for them.
  5. Success is doing something you’ve never done before. There are hidden talents within you that have not been unlocked, explore until you find them.
  6. Success is also trying something you’ve never tried before. There’s a whole new world and culture before you to experience, take advantage of it. Eat the food, see the sights, soak it all in.
  7. Success is celebrating the little things in life and never taking them for granted. Whether it’s watching a beautiful sunset, feeling the sand between your toes, breathing in clean, cold air, cherish every moment God gives you.
  8. Success is empowering others to become better. Someone (if it already isn’t happening) is going to show you the ropes and take you under their wing, return the favor and be a mentor and teacher yourself.
  9. Success is doing what’s right, even when everyone else is okay in doing what’s wrong. Character is something we live with forever, better to be known as honest and truthful, than corrupt and deceptive, no matter what you may stand to lose.
  10. Success is being the person your dog thinks you are. Kindness, humility and compassion certainly go a long way. It’s more likely going to be reciprocated when you treat others well.
  11. Success is using your life experiences for the greater good. Mine was being diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, battling it for 17 years and still going, getting beat down by the disease that tried to kill me, and making a comeback, not only by being tougher than this spawned from Satan disease, but making it my life’s work to help others going though similar issues.
  12. Finally, success is making sure you put God first into everything you do. Pray every day for guidance, pray your talents are used to serve others. Be the servant leader He expects us to be, not by words, but by through wholehearted actions. That doesn’t mean having to do something extravagant or grandiose, it’s often simple gestures that make the most positive impact even if that simple action is holding the elevator open for a complete stranger. Maybe even pick up someone’s tab for dinner without them knowing who did it. Or, above all, perhaps just smile a bit more and be the light this world needs to make 2018 a remarkable and unforgettable year.