What is success and how do we recognize it when it appears?

Recently I was discussing the idea of success with some friends. It was amazing to me that this seemingly simple concept could have so many interpretations and I came away asking myself, “what is success and how do we recognize it when it appears?” In a society like ours many people may relate personal success to the kind of car they drive or where they live and how big their house is; or they might look to the bottom line of their business for the answer. But the main obstacle for people who think this way is that they misunderstand success. Having said that, I conclude that while the picture of success might be different for each of us; the principles of success will be the same for all.

So, can everyone succeed? Absolutely! Because success is a journey, not a destination. And as I see it the main defining quality of success is perseverance; never giving up, trying one more time, hanging on after others have let go, and following through. In other words watch success develop in small portions day by day and take pleasure in the delights your actions will procure.

While pondering my own definition of success as it relates to our work at The Ray Tye Medical Aid Foundation, I had the profound revelation that sometimes what we see as success might appear to some as failure. We feel great joy when the cases we undertake have a good (or even miraculous) outcome and everyone rejoices with us. Sometimes an outcome may be bad; resulting in death but we can still call it a success. As an example you will read in this issue the story of Peter Oyuga; his death caused deep sadness in all of us but looking beyond our grief we can see that Peter’s life had a purpose and he was given a chance he would not have had without our help; he passed away in dignity amidst caring doctors, nurses and friends. He was returned to his family for burial without the disfiguring tumors on his face; giving his parents a chance to see the beauty of their child one last time.

Peter’s case reminds me of the words of Theodore Roosevelt: “In any moment of decision the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing”.

As we review all of the cases we worked with this year, we are humbled and thankful for our generous and caring donors, the many doctors, hospital administrators and medical personnel, government officials and in many cases the media who help us to persevere, to keep trying and eventually to succeed.


A. Raymond Tye

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