Dene E. Gainey

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The Success Initiative

David Brinkley was definitely onto something when he coined this eloquent phrase.

It makes me think about the following questions:

  1. What is success?
  2. What is the purpose of a foundation?
  3. What are these bricks?

Is success a relative idea? Some may equate success to having lots of money in the bank, driving nice cars, living in a luxurious home, taking lucrative vacations or power & prestige. Is this truly what success is though? Does one have success when these items are achieved? What if you have some but not all of these? Does having one make you successful versus having all five? Is is safe to assume that if one does not have any of these great material things, that he or she is not a success? Perhaps it is important to reevaluate what success really means, for ourselves as well as for the students that look up to us.

It is important to strive, reach, push, pull, grind and do all that can be done in this tangled web we weave. As educators, we help our students to prepare or be prepared for life; we help them to help them to have a solid foundation, on which they can continue to build, expand and grow. The house may never be finished. Ask the lifelong learners, they will tell you that learning is perpetual and if learning were a house, you might as well come over anytime for a visit, because it will never be complete enough; there is always more than can be learned. A foundation then is the lowest part of a building on which the other parts rest.

What are these bricks, you say? Well in the literal sense, bricks are rectangular, 3-D objects that are often used to line the walls of houses or other buildings. You might recall the childhood story of The Three Little Pigs and the differences between the houses they built of straw, sticks and bricks. The wolf was no match for the house built with bricks, because they were solid, heavy and provided structure to the third pig's house. What can be learned from this? Well, perhaps something quite profound, such that it may totally transform your perspective on the challenges in life.

Physical bricks solidify the house. Metaphorically speaking, bricks might include: negativity or judgment. It may also be that constant struggle to be you. It might be the fault-finding brick that hits you, when no one truly is perfect. It may be that expectation for you to know everything without ever learning or being taught. So what am I getting at here? It's very possible that the brick has purpose. We've heard the thought many times, "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger." Perhaps the brick is absolutely necessary because while it may have been thrown to attack your credibility, worth or integrity, it is another brick that can be added to the house. 

So then, how does one use these "bricks" as a benefit? Certainly it requires a perspective shift. It is important to note that how you embrace these things in life is all based on perception. Our perception can either build us or defeat us. What would happen if we viewed every challenge, obstacle or hurdle as an opportunity to build, grow and change? Maybe that's a lofty goal. However, consider how you win, when you challenge yourself to see the bricks differently? 

So all things considered, we can't always avoid the bricks. But we can make the bricks work FOR us. Therefore, we can see success differently. We can see success as winning, going through it rather than around it, knowing there might be something in the brick that really pushes us harder towards what success really is. It's not simply what you have, but what you do, regardless of what you have.

Credit for this quote, in sharing that is, goes to Jeffry Prickett who again has challenged me to consider the power in a quote, if you can unpack it.