“… a man of value.” -Albert Einstein


“Try not to become a man of success rather try to become a man of value.”
–Albert Einstein

      I want success.  I dream of it daily.  I affirm it to myself every morning and every night, and frequently throughout my day.  I advise others to go after their own ideal for success.

     What is success?  Typically, we conjure images of expensive cars and luxurious vacations; often, they are images that we don’t even really want; they are the images that we have accepted as success.  We apply them to our lives and modify them to our tastes so that the expensive car is no longer the Ferrari, but now it is a 40 foot custom RV.  In any case, we are still believing that “success” means “things.”

     I like things.  I like things a lot.  I’m 33 years old and I still write a long Christmas list, even if nobody reads it.  The things, however, are meaningless.  I know this.  I am who I am with or without them.  They are symbolic of my persona, and my persona is not my essence, it is a morphing thing, it is only a mask, a buffer to the rest of the world.  My essence is the truth.  My essence is what, when considering success, conjures images of love and playfulness, of reverie. 

     Try all you want to become a man (or woman) of success.  It will likely happen if you try often and with clear focus.  However, if you are merely seeking those images, then you will be just another example of how money doesn’t buy you everything. 

     Try to become a person of value, and it won’t matter to you if you have success or not.  Becoming a person of value means that first, you are of value to your own existence, and second, you are of value to the existence of others.  Being a person of value may mean having those images of success, but if it does not, you will find that it truly does not matter to you.

     Here is an idea that many people don’t seem to like:  no matter who, no matter what, every person acts out of selfishness.  Mother Teresa acted out of selfishness.  Of course, this requires a broader definition of selfishness as we typically see it.  Call it “conscious selfishness.”  When Mother Teresa helped countless people, she did so out of the deep yearning that came from within.  It was the best way that she found to serve her passion. 

     Go about your life in conscious selfishness and you will live a life of value, a life of passion.  Through conscious selfishness, you will find that it may suit your highest values more if you choose not to argue with your mate, or if you choose to help others in need.  It all depends on what your highest values are, and that becomes more clear the more you express your conscious selfishness.

     It may seem absurd that to become a person of value, you must become consciously selfish, but this only means that you are still hung up on the term “selfish.”  Get over that.  You are selfish.  The more hung up on the term you are, the more selfish you are.  You may act and behave un-selfishly, but truthfully, you are only doing so to suit your personal need, perhaps of being viewed as unselfish.  In the end, you’re still selfish. 

     Forget the notion of being a martyr in order to be of value.  Isn’t it possible that in order to be of the highest value to people you care about, it requires that you are wealthy, healthy and really, really happy?  How valuable are you if you’re miserable?  Don’t worry that being of value will require you to sign your life away to handing out blankets to the homeless.  Just let your passion guide you, even if you’re uncertain what it is.

     Go about your life like a downstream, easeful, and play with the turns and currents.  See what happens when you make choices that are meant to serve your highest values, not just the temporary want.  Imagine yourself choosing behaviors that serve your ultimate happiness. 

     Don’t worry about success.  It will come if it’s in line with your passion.  Consider only how your passion is of service, is of value, whether just to you or to the whole world, and all that you most want will fall into place in perfect time.

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Published in: on November 13, 2007 at 7:12 am  Comments (11)  
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11 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. hi there, I came across this page w.r.t. your usage of an Einstein quote … I think before making statements about selfishness you should consult a dictionary, and esp. be familiar with the part of selfishness that is “being without regard for others” … do you think self-preservation is selfish? Is art selfish? At what point does your work become selfish? Is it when you play on the confusions of society, or act disingenuously? Anyway, good luck

  2. Brien, thank you for your comment. It is interesting when someone is tangled up on the use of this word, selfishness.
    “…Of course, this requires a broader definition of selfishness as we typically see it. …”

    And yes, in a way, everything a person does is selfish. Everything a person does comes from the self. However, there are many levels of what self is. Offense or Annoyance, such as what you may be experiencing, is the level of identity. It is the same with me that finds the need to explain myself.
    But this blog isn’t about that. It is about speaking to anyone who is willing to broaden their definition of the world they live in.

    By the way, I’ve checked out ResistTheB.org and I like what I’ve seen so far.

    • I concur with Matt. We must be selfish in our pursuit to be good people, no matter if others think it crazy for one. The masses aren’t tuned for good people, only the hip or “in-style” need apply for many avenues of success. Whereas, one without the social graces of style can become a valuable commodity within a higher order of mankind. Success is measured monetarily where value is measured by not what you can buy but by what can’t buy you.

  3. hello, I thought I’d follow up. What I understand you’re saying is that not being selfish means you are selfless. I think those are two extremes, and not many people are on either side. One hang up I have is that, in general, we should take care not to dismiss the actions of criminals, manipulators, or people who would you use others (as opposed to cooperate with others) as normal, as if everybody’s thinking that way. Narcissism, arrogance, all of that happens when you disregard others … I don’t think most people consider that desirable or want to eliminate their delineations in language. While I agree that there is no litmus test for why we do things, making it hard to reach true understandings of motives — e.g. whether what we’re doing is actually to engender a better society, or to serve our own interests — I do think that society has foolishly come to accept a general mental model of the world that praises “do whatever it takes”, and dismisses values (moral, ethical) as valueless (wrt “success”). But I do believe the truth manifests itself in the next generations. That is — you are not a measure of your success; the next generations are.

    Anyway, all this is interesting. And thanks for checking out rtb … we have some cool projects coming up.

  4. [sorry if this is posted several times. My connection was having a hiccup]

    hello, I thought I’d follow up. What I understand you’re saying is that not being selfish means you are selfless. I think those are two extremes, and not many people are on either side. One hang up I have is that, in general, we should take care not to dismiss the actions of criminals, manipulators, or people who would use others (as opposed to cooperate with others) as normal, as if everybody’s thinking that way. Narcissism, arrogance, all of that happens when you disregard others … I don’t think most people consider that desirable or want to eliminate their delineations in language. While I agree that there is no litmus test for why we do things, making it hard to reach true understandings of motives — e.g. whether what we’re doing is actually to engender a better society, or to serve our own interests, and of course we do have mixed motives — I do think that society has foolishly come to accept a general mental model of the world that praises “do whatever it takes”, and dismisses values (moral, ethical) as valueless (wrt “success”). But I do believe the truth manifests itself in the next generations. That is — you are not a measure of your success; the next generations are.

    Anyway, all this is interesting. And thanks for checking out rtb … we have some cool projects coming up.

  5. When we try to define sefishness we should not be either.

  6. the value of a man resides in what he give and not in

    what he is capable of receiving ——–try and fail,but do”nt fail to try

  7. Man of value redefined (2012) – http://themanofvalue.blogspot.in/

  8. I agree that we must guard our conscious against the forces which would seek to destroy the goodness thereof. In that I have a conscious selfishness.

    It’s a long hard road to being a man of value, but there is a respect that being such commands which far exceeds any success one can attain. To have both value and success is truly a gift from God should we attain both.

  9. Reblogged this on brucewaren and commented:
    Albert Einstein was both valuable and successful.

  10. In my view, People successes exist when there is a value. By mean that, what is the value?
    A value is an individual passion or interest. But Why is so important that? In fact, there are people who don’t know themselves for what is a love for doing and sadly the achievement wasn’t in a Life. Therefore, Knowing self for the direction leads the highest degree point.
    .


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