The Art of Success

In the Spring of 1961, This Week Magazine carried a series of eight essays called, “Words to Live By,” written by Wilferd A. Peterson. They were all excellent, but I thought the last one was particularly good. It was entitled, “The Art of Success,” and I’d like to quote it for you.

“There are no secrets to success.”

“Success is doing the things you know you should do. Success is not doing the things you know you should not do. Success is not limited to any one area of our life. It encompasses all of the facets of your relationships: as a parent, as wife or husband, as a citizen, neighbor, worker, and all of the others.

Success is not confined to any one part of your personality but is related to the development of all the parts: body, mind, heart, and spirit. It is making the most of your total self. Success is discovering your best talents, skills, and abilities and applying them where they will make the most effective contribution to your fellow men.

“Success is focusing the full power of all you are on what you have a burning desire to achieve.”

“Success is 99% mental attitude. It calls for love, joy, optimism, confidence, security, poise, faith, courage, cheerfulness, imagination, initiative, tolerance, honesty, humility, patience, and enthusiasm.

Success is not arriving at the summit of a mountain as a final destination. It is a continuing upward spiral of progress. It is perpetual growth. Success has the courage to meet failure without being defeated. It is refusing to let present loss interfere with your long-range goal. Success is accepting the challenge of the difficult. In the inspiring words of Phillips Brooks, “Do not pray for tasks equal to your tasks. Then the doing of your work shall be no miracle, but you shall be the miracle.”

Well, there you have it – Wilferd A. Peterson’s essay – “The Art of Success.” Terrific, isn’t it?

“Then the doing of your work shall be no miracle, but you shall be the miracle.” You’ll notice that whenever you read or hear something about how a human being can become successful, it always involves the word “work.” It seems that most people think of the rewards of success as involving leisure time activities, travel, vacations, or just sitting around chatting.

The reward of success is the work at which we succeed. We can only remain successful as long as we are actively engaged in something, some action which produces beneficial results. Without this, leisure time activities have no meaning, nor do they give us enjoyment or satisfaction. You will always find that the most disgruntled and frustrating individuals are those who do not understand this. The fact that it is how we handle our jobs which determines our degree of greatness, success, happiness, and peace of mind. Our hope is always in our work, not out of it. As Mr. Peterson wrote,

“Success is focusing the full power of all you are on what you have a burning desire to achieve.”

If you would succeed, give everything you have to those things you know you should be doing. If you do, you can let the future take care of itself. There’s no way on earth that you can fail!

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