Daddy, What is Success?

art linkletter

The Art Linkletter Show

Way back, in the last century, there was a TV show hosted by the late Art Linkletter, entitled “Kids Say the Darndest Things.”  Linkletter brought to light how simple questions and answers, “out of the mouths of babes,” can give us a chuckle,  warm our hearts, or gift pearls of wisdom for our minds.

Last Saturday morning, our young daughter queried, “Daddy, what is success?” Whoa! This inquiry struck me like a jolt of double espresso!

When thinking of success, the first thoughts that usually come to most minds are images of celebrities such as Warren Buffet and Bill Gates, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese, Paul McCartney and Bruce Springsteen. These are people who have reached the pinnacle of their professions while making a boat-load of money doing it!  But no, this wasn’t the first thing that came to my brain.

A single answer trumpeted, perhaps in lieu of my audience. I rejoined, “Success is when you wake up in the morning and want to jump out of bed because you’re so excited about what you have to do today and who you’re going to see.” (WHAT! I thought to myself. Who said that? What about all the money? The fame? The respect? The power and influence? The cred? Huh?)

Her response, “Cool!” And, then easily skipped away. She had seemed so pleased with the answer, but not me! It left me standing still to reflect on those recent sounds emitted from my flapping lips.

Possibly, we had a reverse “Art Linkletter moment” here? In my desire to respond with a candid answer that a child would understand, I had a moment of profundity? Could success really be that simple?

Years ago, I heard a proclamation, “Do what you love, and the money will follow.” What knucklehead came up with that? Isn’t that what I’ve always done? Well, look where that’s gotten me! Where the heck is the money? Show me the money!! And, how often does it happen that someone turns a hobby into a money-seeking adventure, only to soon lose interest because it had become a burden.  Ha, I also love sex…I’m not about to do THAT for money!  Right, Honey?

WAIT A MINUTE HERE,  maybe I’ve just been missing the point, altogether. Like the drowning man who called out for God’s help and then refused the Coast Guards’ ladder. We have all either known or knew of some miserable folk who were considered successful. Perhaps, I do have it wrong George Bailey! Maybe, that answer to my daughter wasn’t so simple-minded, after all…where’s the damn question mark symbol on a PC…oh there…????????????????? Found it!

We run ourselves ragged trying to make a nice life for our families, to have success in our careers and feel like we’re contributing, but often, in our passion and determination to succeed many of us miss out on the simple answer that’s right in front of us.

Maybe, the most important thing in life is having a happy home, supporting the people we love, helping somebody out, being needed? Maybe it’s about having some good moments with the people we care deeply for? …definitely found the “?”


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James Finn

Author: James Finn

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