On a recent Saturday morning as I left home to run some errands, I noticed an elderly man with a young boy, in a yard. It appeared he was explaining something to the boy, perhaps how to fix something.
In the brief moment that I was able to glance over at them while driving by, the symbolic picture of skills being transferred from one generation to the next was not lost on me.
The older gentleman, Mr. Martin, lives down the street from us. He was the man in the yard that day. He’s been turning plain ole wood into useful works of art and science for decades. He’s a teacher at my sons’ school – has been for 30+ years.
On that unseasonably warm Saturday morning, the first weekend of Spring break, he was spending time with his grandson, presumably. And Mr. Martin was doing what he had been doing for his entire adult life…teaching.
He started out teaching woodshop. I’ve heard him talk about how he misses the smell of the wood. Because technology has all but removed the actual handcrafting aspect of his classes and retooled them into “Engineering”. My sons have both enjoyed their time in his classroom, as you would expect boys to.
Though his methods have drifted over the years, going from eliciting smiles from mother when junior brings home a carefully carved and stained napkin holder, to where we are now with translating a graphic design into a 3D printed model – Mr. Martin is still at it, introducing young minds to the world of engineering and manufacturing.
Many students over the years and presently, are taking the skills they’ve learned in Mr. Martin’s classes, along with the value he places on working with ones’ hands, and they are setting off into the wild blue yonder in productive, gratifying careers.
I hear this word often. And as many times as I hear it, exceeding that are the definitions. For doesn’t “success” have a different meaning in the eyes of each and every person?
Typically, the ideal picture of success, the desireable one, is painted with broad strokes of green. In other words…loads of cash. Yes, in many cases, material wealth is the byproduct of achievement, hard work, climbing the corporate ladder. But I want to recognize another form of success.
Living our purpose.
I imagine that Mr. Martin is living his purpose. And he’s happy doing so.
We can be sure of this: there is joy and satisfaction guaranteed when we find and fulfill our unique purpose.
Mr. Martin could’ve entered the workforce as a carpenter, worked in manufacturing, owned his own woodworking shop. He could’ve done a number of things with his skills. He missed out on having the world look at him and say, “That man is successful.”
Or did he?
I look at Mr. Martin and I see success.
He has a passion for what he does, and not just the trade of engineering. He had a desire to share his skills, his knowledge…his life, with our young people. In his work and personal life, he’s doing just that. He is successful.
The idea of success isn’t limited to the size of bank accounts, lofty titles or status. A person can be successful in circumstances that seem meager to others. In fact, success is a relative term. Sometimes it’s a word used loosely to describe someone who seems to have arrived at a state that we ourselves are envious of. But that’s their story. And we’ll never feel “successful” until we live our own story.
Whether you’re juggling meetings and agendas or wiping noses and changing diapers – you can bask in “success.”
Mr. Martin chose how he would spend his life. He set out to do something, and he did it. The bonus here is: his selfless choice to teach spread the opportunities for success further than himself.
Success. It’s closer than you think.