Are You Successful?

Author: Dr. Cheryl Cottle

Are your successful? Have you been asked, are you successful? This question always gets me thinking and really reflective. I am always not sure what the person intends to achieve with the question. However, I know that success is a personal measurement. What I use to measure whether I am successful or not is an individualized measurement with particular indices that is unique to me. I will say, I am successful, because I am happy with where I have gotten in the world. I am knowledgeable, and I have achieved many of society’s yard sticks, and more importantly I have tried to impact people’s life positively. I will also add that I have been fortunate to be able to live my life by doing much of what I love. As a result I love what I do. I enjoy evoking in others, how to ask questions, and how to critically access information and how to actively participate in what ever change they will like to see. I have been given the opportunity to get access to books; I saw it as a changed agent from a very young age. It is with this exposure to books that led me on a path of higher learning. What it has also done for me was to place me in the right settings to make a difference in the lives of others.
"I've come to believe that each of us has a personal calling that's as unique as a fingerprint - and that the best way to succeed is to discover what you love and then find a way to offer it to others in the form of service, working hard, and also allowing the energy of the universe to lead you." ~ Oprah Winfrey 
I recently became aware of where my love for books and the academe came from. After being confirmed as a doctor that wintry morning in March, 2003, and I was welcomed into the sorority by my thesis supervisor, I called my father and brothers and sisters to join me for dinner at my father’s home. My father agreed that I can host my success at his home, and my brothers and sister agreed to attend. That evening we met in a very celebratory mood. Every one was happy for my accomplishment; my  two brothers brought gifts. To mark my accomplishment, my Dad did a toast to my success. He said that I was born knowing what I wanted to achieved in life. "You have lived your life directed and focused without deviating from what you wanted." One of my brothers could not wait in suspense to when he shared, and asked him "how did you knew?" He said “when Cheryl was about 3 years old she emphatically stated that all she needed was books. How this came about is that one day, while she accompanied me to my garden, I thought that she was bored, and if she had a small hoe, she could be engaged. My Dad continued by saying, that her response was, “books please, only books I want no hoe” "and she was terrified by the thought of having a hoe." "I guess she knew what path she would like to take her life." My dad stated that "from that time, Cheryl knew where her destiny lied, and followed her dreams." “Throughout the years, I knew she will.” I think that I began living my life purposefully from that time. I remember “books” was in my environment growing up and my father always supported me in my academic quest.
"Although time seems to fly, it never travels faster than one day at a time. Each day is a new opportunity to live your life to the fullest. In each waking day, you will find scores of blessings and opportunities for positive change. Do not let your today be stolen by the unchangeable past or the indefinite future! Today is a new day!"  ~ Steve Maraboli
It sounds very liberating and purposeful; it is a journey that many women are choosing today by following their purpose and by living divinely, putting their hearts, soul and love in what they are doing. Today more women are taking greater risk and are living life more abundantly. More and more women from all over the world are living purposefully and for those who are not there yet, are working towards achieving a more holistic life by living meaningfully, purposeful and authentically.  One of my guest on Women in Business Radio, also shared with my audience that when she started her business, rather than doing it alone, identified very early that while she has some of the skills set, she did not have all to run a business successfully, she would have to recruit others to assist her. After many years of running and growing a business, she still says that was one of the best business decisions that she made. Her business has grown from having 3 employees to over 200+ employees.
"Success in any endeavor depends on the degree to which it is an expression of your true self." ~ Ralph Marston
The emergence of women empowerment from an econo-politico framework seems to be gaining grounds worldwide, as more women around the globe are becoming entrepreneurs. There is an economical and political shift worldwide as women are becoming responsible for their own lives and the lives of their children. It sends an econo-politico message that we are striving to live a battered-free life and a violent- free lifefree-from poverty. Entrepreneurship is now perceived in  societies, I will confidently say worldwide, as a vocation through which women can support themselves, their children and their communities, and also leave a legacy for their children. More and more leaders across the globe are making inroads to facilitate the growth of entrepreneurship by passing legislation to provide support through knowledge -based information, computer technology and financial support for their survival. One of women's most effective teachers are other women. Women seem to serve other women as role models and it is one of the most successful approaches to facilitating social changes. Women learn from each other, not necessarily by using a classroom or a chalk board and chalk, but simply by taking example. Observation as a learning strategy is very powerful in how women learn from each other, and it works for us as women in our empowerment.
"At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us." ~ Albert Schweitzer
Assessing the question, have you been asked, are you successful? is in my view how one measures success. In my view it is an individualistic and unique response determined by my indices used to evaluate it. What is success for me is not the same for another individual. It is similar to how you value someone? One person's weight for kindness might be different from another. The same applies to defining success. The weight you put on your accomplishment will determine the value and appreciation that you placed on it. Just recently, I realized  that in my life I have always appreciated and was thankful whether I received a dot on an "I" or a "T"crossed. Most people do not value the small things, but I appreciate from the minuscule help to the biggest help; once it contributed to my development.

Here is another term "contribute to my development"— it is very broad, and again, how we see it, is also different. By unraveling what is success, I also had to unravel the valuing of something — what does that means for you? Does it have similar weight as everyone else? These two questions had put me in a reflective mood to a sad time in my life. Looking back I understood the response of my siblings after the death of my father. In my eulogy I mentioned that he revealed to me, my desire for higher learning, when it started, and sharing an experience that he shared with me about my love for learning. In my eulogy I shared the experience my Dad and had and happily understood for the first time why he was always supportive of my studies. Showing gratitude for my Dad and his unwavering support every time I said that I was going back to school. He was supportive when I said that I was attending University for my BA. He was equally supportive when I enrolled at a University in the USA to complete a Master degree and was proudly happy when I gain acceptance to do my doctorate at the University of Toronto; is often taken to mean, by my siblings, that I received financial help from him to pursue my studies, and there is an envy.

I appreciated every time my Dad drove and visit my apartment downtown on the weekend. I also appreciated the time he visited my daughter at the Woman's Hospital where she was for many months with pregnancy related illness. She was hospitalized with his first great-grand son. I especially remember the time I got to spend time with him, when he asked me for a massage. It was a surprise, yes! We have been close but not to give a massage, and the last time he asked me to do something was to cook him meat balls.  Realizing that his request is coming from a different place, I offered to give him a manicure, pedicure and his massage, but I did not thoroughly grasp the full meaning of his request then. My daughter and I did a great job, he was happy and up to today when I think about him, I feel happy, knowing that it was one of the last activity we did as a father, grand-daughter and great-grand-son. Yes, Matthew was also there. That was a special moment that I had with my Dad that no one can reduce or take away. My Dad died 3 weeks after that day and he was sick for over 12 years with cancer — this I learned the week he died. During those days when I reflect, I realize that he was a strong, brave, majestic and a noble man who lived his life as he choose — he lived purposefully. I was there at his last moments — a time that I felt I had to be strong. What those last few days of his life reminded me of, is to look back at every moment that I shared with him that brought joy and love and treasure them.
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.

"To be grateful is to recognize the Love of God in everything He has given us — and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him. Gratitude therefore takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder and to praise of the goodness of God. For the grateful person knows that God is good, not by hearsay but by experience. And that is what makes all the difference." ~ Thomas Merton 
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.


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