Many people have asked me what success is and a lot of times, I remain silent. I guess it's the realization that there is no clear definition to success. The short story that follows is an excerpt from a book I am writing, entitled "Be Stupid. Be Selfish. Be Suicidal... Be Successful!"
It is my attempt to try to illustrate what success really means, and that success cannot be defined with sweeping statements, but with an open mind.
I hope you enjoy this very short story...
I remember, back in the early 1990s, when Helen, my wife, and I still had a small Catholic bookstore in Laloma, Quezon City, there was this “homeless” man who used to visit our store every Friday, not to beg, but, to buy books. He would choose books from notable Catholic authors; books that I considered quite sophisticated.
He hardly spoke; but during the rare times he did speak, he would do so quite eloquently. It was obvious that he was an educated man. In one of those rare times he opted to engage in conversation with me, this homeless man, who refused to give me his name, mentioned that he used to be a professor from the University of the Philippines. He also said that he was earning a decent enough living before turning his back on that life.
Strangely enough, I learned that he chose to live the life of a beggar because the hypocrisy of the world disgusted him. Somewhere along the line this man had decided that poverty was his calling and that there was no turning back for him. When I asked if he was happy with his decision, he simply smiled at me and said, “Yes, very happy.” I believed him.
Two years after that conversation was the last time I would see that homeless chap again. What he said, however, did stick to me. It challenged every naive thought I had about success back then. Here was a guy who ate out of garbage cans every day; yet, he was happy. How was this possible?
So was this man successful? I honestly believe he was.
Many years later, with the thought of this man still fresh in my mind, I would stop challenging the unconventional and start opening my mind to the real… that success is a personal matter.
is the Managing Director of Our-Knowledge Asia and a Business Consultant for Local and Foreign Start-ups, SMEs and Organizations based in the Philippines.