Monday 17th December 18:53

"Life's Real Prizes"

Hi everyone,

It's strange how the word "success" has changed over the years. Once success was reserved for people who had achieved something notable in their chosen field, a sports star breaking a record after years of training or an entrepreneur who gets a business breakthrough after years of failure.

Today, in the popular imagination, success is something you achieve if you acquire the trappings of success, such as a big house, big car and big bank account. For celebrities, success is counted by the number of times they appear in the media or on TV.

I was thinking about the true meaning of success the other day while watching a re-run of an old TV series from the 1980's called "To Serve Them All My Days" by R F Delderfield.

The story takes place in an English public school of the 1920's and 30's called Bamfylde. Bamflylde is run by a kindly but wise headmaster called Algie Herries. The scene which left a mark on me was a scene when the headmaster is giving a speech at the school's prize-giving day. This is what he says to the boys and parents:

"Today reminds me of a school prize-giving day some years ago. There were two chaps that I remember being up for prizes. One was a chap called Petherbridge who had excelled throughout the school and was one of our skyrockets. He was likely due for success at the Foreign Office after which would come a plum posting and eventual retirement with a knighthood.

The other chap was Chuff Rogers who had never won anything. This was his first school prize and he sat there on the front row waiting for his award looking as pleased as punch.

Next to him, sat a large mother with a baby on her lap. This toddler had taken quite a shine to Chuff who seemed to have the gift of making him laugh. Just at the moment that Chuff's name was called, the baby was suddenly sick all over himself, Chuff and the mother. She was beside herself with embarrassment but not Chuff. Despite the waiting hall, he took out the oddest-looking handkerchief I had ever seen, wiped mother, baby and himself down, and then, and only then, when he was sure everyone was alright, did he come up for his prize.

First things first, you see. Which, I like to think, is the Bamfylde way of doing things. And that is why I'll never forget Chuff Rogers for as long as I live. But, I've completely forgotten...er... um... Petherbridge."

I don't begrudge today's celebrities their success. But to me many of them are the Petherbridges of this world. They are on a ladder that the world calls "success" and much of what they do is immediately forgettable and inconsequential. I wish you well if you choose to take that route to success. But I hope you do it with a little bit of the Chuff Rogers' version of "first-things-first success" as well.

Best wishes,

Eric

ManageTrainLearn 2011