I don’t know about you but at times I feel the pressure of quantity over quality. Am I working enough hours? Am I producing enough articles? Do I have enough speaking engagements lined up? And if I do, how many people will come? I have a bad habit of measuring my success based on numbers. Perhaps this is because I tend to be addicted to achieving and perhaps it is in part because our society rewards this addiction. Lately, I have been questioning what it means to achieve.
What does it mean to have a fruitful life verses a successful life. What does it mean to have a life that is meaningful and not just impressive? While numbers are a reality of the world in which we live, I believe there is much to be enjoyed in focusing on a fruitful life, rather than a successful one.
When we focus on being successful over fruitful, we lose the integrity of who we are. When we are oriented toward success, we try to change ourselves to be what others want us to be, losing ourselves and our effectiveness in blessing others. When we are oriented toward fruitfulness, we are able to embrace our unique giftedness and shine where we shine best–trusting that we will be used in ways that we are meant to be.
Success is insatiable. A drive for success leads to a life that always demands more of us. It makes us feel as though we are never enough, and peace never comes. Whereas a fruitful life begins with contentment—contentment about who we are and joy about the unique gifts we’ve were given. Knowing our value is complete and untouchable leads to our ability to bear true fruit.
Bearing fruit is difficult for a tree without the basic elements that plants need to grow—water, sunlight, good soil—and the same is true for us. We cannot be fruitful in our work or relationships when we are not able to take care of ourselves physically, emotionally and spiritually. On the other hand, success will drive us toward burn out as we try to please everyone around us without first nurturing ourselves, eventually rendering us useless and fruitless in our service to others.
Success seeks to compare. A drive towards success means that we are only as good as our last performance and our value is measured against those around us. Conversely, when we focus on bearing fruit we are truly able to live our own life well. Being fruitful looks different for everybody and therefore it is useless to compare. You cannot compare apples and oranges.
What kind of life do you want to lead? A life of depth and quality, or a life of fleeting successes to be counted and not appreciated? I can’t help but think how our world might change if more of us focused on the former.
Photo credit: Che and Fidel blog