There was once a time, a little over two years ago… When I had gone to Santa Monica, California, for a launch party that the tech start-up, Zaarly, was holding. A few colleagues and myself decided to have a discussion. Everyone was going around the table defining what they though to be the answer to this particular question.
What is the definition of success?
Opinions were spreading around.
Some people got heated into debates.
Others were spectating and listening to each side of the story.
I heard rants on how the lack of education cultivates poverty. Others on how you have to “hustle” hard to get on track and do whatever it takes to get to your destination.
I decided to step in and share my definition of success, based on a story that I once heard.
I’m pretty sure that I originally heard this story from John Maxwell, the author of books such as the 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. However, I’m not 100% certain as to whether or not it was him. If not, it was first voiced by another world renowned author.
I interrupted as everyone was knee deep into their debates.
I inquired “Do you want to know how to make it in America?”
Everyone paused. Everyone turned to me. I had the floor. Everyone’s undivided attention was directed to me.
I began to share a story that has touched my heart.
Once upon a time, there lived a man.
He was of Norwegian American descent. He emigrated to America with his parents. He grew up on one side of the Oconomowoc Lake, a small lake outside Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His name was Ole Evinrude.
He was in love with a girl by the name of Beth.
He would row his boat to see her each and every day. He would do anything for this girl, as she was the center of his life.
Beth loved him back with all her heart. They grew up together and shared many stories and adventures together.
Mr. Evinrude, being a man that always wanted to do whatever he could to make the love of his life happy, did everything he could to fulfill all her wishes.
Beth LOVED Ice Cream.
One day, Ole had decided that he wanted to treat his amazing girlfriend with a surprise. A passion had burned deep within the heart of Ole. He wanted to bring his wonderful girlfriend, Beth, some of the ice cream that he had made at home.
However, as he rowed, by hand, to the other side of the lake, under the hot sun… Since the trip took so long, the ice cream would always melt before he could get to the other side of the lake, to Beth’s home.
He tried, day by day, but was never able to succeed in his venture.
He was filled with a void in his heart, because he was unable to provide his love with what she had desired most in life.
However he tried over and over again.
He started to become innovative.
He thought to himself, how could I possibly get to the other side of the lake, without having Beth’s ice cream melt?
He tried using coolers and many other inventions to keep the ice cream cold on the long journey.
Nothing worked. He was failing. Over and over again.
Beth was still unable to taste the sweet treat that Ole had sworn that he would deliver to her.
For a few months, in between the visits to Beth, Ole decided to work in his garage on this new project.
One day, he put together a motor. Unsure of if it would work or not, he pulled the string. Over. And over. And over again.
All of the sudden, the motor started to work.
Ole ran inside his home. He grabbed the ice cream he had prepared for Beth. He placed the ice cream into a container on his row boat. He then tied on and attached the motor to the end of the back of the boat.
Then… A miracle happened.
Ole was able to deliver Beth ice cream for the first time, without it melting before he had arrived.
That, my friends… Is how to make it in America.
From there, I ended my story.
There were no more debates. Just questions upon the details of the story, as to whether or not it was true. Luckily, we have documentation in this world to prove our facts about people such as Ole Evinrude.
Could you just imagine the joy and look on Beth’s face, when she was unexpectedly astonished to be able to enjoy a fresh scoop of ice cream from her lover?
Ole Evinrude had set out on a journey. A journey to fulfill his girlfriend’s desires. In turn, he married the love of his wife. By the age of 30 he had invented the outboard motor. Onward, the driving force of love had helped him become a very wealthy man, who had created a legacy so powerful, he was able to pass his business onto his own children.
Then there’s my story. However, I’m not anywhere near accomplishing any type of success in my life: How do people react from a higher to a lower standard of living?
Originally posted on Quora.
Leonard Kim is Managing Partner at InfluenceTree. At InfluenceTree, Leonard and his team teach you how to build your (personal or business) brand, get featured in publications and growth hack your social media following.