Success Teaches You Nothing

Daniel Khutso Makgae
June 30, 2014

People often regard “success” as the end of their tunnel, end of their struggle, their perseverance and their chase. They see it as the beginning of a new life of rest and ease; they can then relax and enjoy their achievement. But success is so elusive: from talking to those who have achieved it, I have seen that such people often desensitize themselves to the pain of others, lured by the comfort of their newly acquired success. Life appears to such to be “easy,” and if they are not careful, they often find themselves back at square one!

Success is a great thing, no doubt, but of itself, it teaches us nothing. Its allure can make us lazy, or naively optimistic, especially when we lose our overall focus in life. It is only from the hardships, struggles and pains of life that we truly learn. So, wherever you are now, and whatever your situation, stay focused! Life is a teacher whose lessons today will guide you tomorrow. Such lessons are the way to stay successful, whenever you do achieve it.

But people don’t like to think of their past and their mistakes. Many shed tears when asked to do so, instead of feeling proud that they endured, overcome, and survived until better times came. Our past is our greatest teacher and guide towards a successful future. Otherwise, we will have gone through hardships for nothing; people usually fall from their high perches of success, because they forget that in order to remain up there, they have to “keep fighting,” not get lazy. When we fall, we so often become angry, aggressive, and even do deals that make our situation worse and even land us in prison!

In John’s Gospel, ch.11, when Jesus’ friend Lazarus was lying mortally ill on his bed, he might have thought that God had forgotten him. But what he did not know was that God was preparing him for a testimony that would shock the world though Christ’s miracle of raising him from the dead. The same with you, you might look at your situation and think that God has forgotten you. But you have no idea of the plans God has for your life!  If God allowed us only to experience success, we might think it was all because of our own power. God, instead, lets us go through hard times, because He knows that it is only then that we learn to seek His face. God knows that “success teaches us nothing.” So when you do reach the end of your tunnel and God authorizes success in your life, respect it and hand God the steering wheel.

Daniel shared his story with Columban Fr. Pat Colgan in Hong Kong. Daniel is incarcerated at the Lai Chi Kok Reception Center, Kowloon, Hong Kong.