Recently I read an article about Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon and presently the richest person on the planet, which claimed he has the following quote taped to his refrigerator at home:
“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”
I’m sure you’ve heard this before, since it’s a popular excerpt attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson. But several points about this were very intriguing to me, causing some good introspection:
First, if Bezos truly believes this, then the richest man on the planet rejects our traditional cultural definition of success: having an abundance of money and things!
Second, there is a fierce undercurrent within this quote to focus your life on others, as opposed to satisfying your own pleasures, especially if you have all the money to do whatever you desire!
Lastly, it is future-oriented. It demands that you evaluate now if your life is making a difference in the world, or are you just pursuing selfish ends.
I’m not sure of Bezos’ religious background, but for those of us who are Christians, this is a great reminder to make sure we aren’t falling for the cultural definition of success, that we are loving our neighbors and seeking to make life better for them, and lastly, daily evaluating how we’re making a difference here on earth.
James 4:13-14 is also a great reminder for us today:
Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.
While this life is temporary and fleeting, it can still be successful and meaningful. May God bless you today as you endeavor to succeed!