Martial Arts Musings – Ruminations on Life and Success

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by GM Jeff Helaney

The measure of a man worth isn’t in how he deals with adversity, but how he deals with success.

In times of trouble we are often forced to be rise above ourselves. There are few of us who haven’t been touched by tragedy, loss, or hardship. During these times we gather strength from within and without. We forge tiredly through to the next minute, hour, and day. Eventually, we pass all the hurdles and we are once more able to become who we are when things are ‘normal’.

If we assume this a truth then our core personality is not the one that only emerges when life has put us on the ropes, but it is the one that comes through when life is at its best. It is troubling to think that success (and the rewards that come with success) can ultimately show a flaw in character more easily than tragedy. It is our interactions with the world when we are our living successfully that becomes the mirror to our character.

Lord Acton wrote, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.” The inference is that to gain success and power we must be willing to become morally ambiguous and indifferent to the needs of others. Our efforts to gain power ultimately damn us for our own inadequacies. Single minded aspirations can result in something very different than what we initially envision when empathy is left out of the equation.

In retrospect, I have found there is very little good in success solely gained for self. I have watched the machinations of powerful men as they scurry to amass fleeting power and success. In the end they have rarely held on to what they fought so hard to gain. More often than not, they have fallen lower than they have risen and they have learned nothing from the lesson.

The trick in life is to find successes in others. Be the champion of those without means and be a mentor to those who come afteryou. Be purposeful in your life. The power that comes with monetary or personal success is often illusion. When we change the lives of others for the better and pass on a philosophy of giving back then we become truly successful. Our lives take on a greater meaning and our successes are measured by the good we have done.

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