"Monday 5 Things" with D. Paul Graham

Monday 5 Things….. Success…..

The M5T that was scheduled for today has been interrupted, and rudely at that, because of a Facebook memory sent to me this Saturday. Let me digress a moment… My heart has been broken, over and over, year after year. On Tuesday last week, I was enjoying reliving younger moments and memories of my life through the music at a Brit Floyd concert. At the same time as the concert, the Leafs were trying to put history behind them and beat the Boston Bruins to advance in the playoffs. Sadly, memories from my youth do not include the Leafs winning a Stanley Cup. I went home anticipating that this, yes, this would be the year that my beloved Toronto Maple Leafs would play on through to the NHL playoffs. Alas, the Leafs lost (read trounced) 5-1 in the final game of the best of seven series. Damn those pesky Bruins. Now, back to the Facebook memory. The bing of a FB notification interrupted my reading Saturday morning, showing me an M5T from four years ago that the Leafs had lost a playoff bid…again. In that M5T, your scribe wrote about defining success. As such, today’s M5T takes a look back – and a look forward – to what success is in our lives.

1. Viewpoint

Success is a matter of perspective. The storied Toronto Maple Leafs have won 13 Stanley Cups, are second in value of  NHL franchises, topping out at over $1.45 billion (up from $1.3 billion four years ago), have sold out every home game for as long as I can remember, and yet the last time Toronto won the Cup I was a wee lad of five in 1967. Fast forward half a century and our Leafs have once again refused to make a run for the playoffs. The shareholders of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment would see the valuation a success; Leaf fans look at 52 years of not celebrating Lord Stanley and probably think, “not so successful, eh?”

2. Definition

The definition of success changes from generation to generation. Growing up, I was taught to work for everything I have and to not expect a handout from anyone. I carry that with me today. Our parents definition of business success meant working for someone else, and, starting (and retiring from) the same company. They were defined by their position in that company. Today, I can’t imagine not working for myself, and, I have made a conscious effort to try not to allow what I do define who I am. This is easier said than done for me, but I work at it. It’s a mindset that differs from our parents, and our parents’ parents. Although to the day my mother passed away, she never really understood what I do to make a living.

3. Shunned

Success can make you unpopular. I realized this quickly in my life. If you demand high expectations for yourself, there are people (and sadly often it’s those closest to us) that resent drive, ambition, gain, or change. It’s a shame that our society relishes the salacious details of someone’s failures more than stories of their success.

4. Ephemeral

Success can be fleeting. Who hasn’t felt at the top of the mountain in some areas of their life, only to feel like Ezekiel in the Valley of Dry Bones in others? I’ve always felt that picking myself up, climbing out of the valley, and reaching for the mountain in front of me should be encompassed in the definition of success.

5. Legacy

Success is a legacy. Webster says success is “achieving wealth, respect, or fame.” I think that rings hollow. More than power, position, and balance sheets, the definition of success should include knowing where you are going in life and why, no matter what comes across your path. It’s also recognizing the high value of the struggles we have overcome, being able to look at one’s self in the mirror at the end of the day and know you have been consistent inside and out, and to have invested time frequently and wisely in those that we love.

Here’s to building success in all you do. And to hoping that maybe, just maybe, the Leafs will meet Lord Stanley next year.

© 2019 D. Paul Graham, all rights reserved.

D. Paul Graham is passionate about people, culture, photography and business. He has embraced his wanderlust with his travels around the globe and is at peace with his need for spirited drives in all things automotive.

You can find M5T each Monday here on www.southmag.com and by friending D. Paul Graham on Facebook. Paul is also a contributing photographer to South Magazine. His photographic work can be found on Instagram @dpgraham and at www.imageGRAHAM.com. Your feedback is always welcome. Email Paul at dpg@imagegraham.com