Succeeding by helping others succeed

Last summer a friend and I cycled an eight day 325 mile bicycle tour. Both of us are bariatric surgery post-ops in our mid-50s, casual cyclists, and having no experience in a ride of this length. Like most guys, we figured we knew enough and could improvise those not-so-clear details. This was going to be the ultimate male bonding wilderness trek.

Reality set in late on the first day after 50 miles of cycling. Come day two, we were on the verge of living a bad reality series. This was not as simple as we had thought it would be. As guys, we were vying for who knew the most, who was the fittest, and who could outlast the other. This of course was all unspoken. Something had to give for us to survive the remainder of the trip and remain good friends. 

What happened on night two was that we came to realize that our personal success was dependent on the success of the other. It called on us to move beyond caveman survival mentality. We learned to work just as hard to be sure the other succeeded as we did to make ourself succeed. With this fresh change in attitude, we had the time of our lives that week.

This is where my experiences from the bike ride plays into my weight loss journey and my quest to be a fitter, healthier person. This societal nature of success calls on me to support others and make their success an integral part of my success. This was what I witnessed first-hand on that bike. Both of our successes that week were tied and actually quite reliant on the other’s successes.

As an active participant in support networks and social networking, I know that a supportive voice is welcomed by community members. It is nice to relate your personal experience to the question at hand. The experience may not necessarily be good. Honest and sincere input is welcomed on difficult situations that did not have a positive outcome for you. This is the pattern of support for others that I foster and value.

But I have found a flip side to this pattern of support. I find that by helping someone succeed I in turn help myself succeed. As mentioned above, only when I worked on making my friend a success did I truly come to understand what success in that setting meant to me. I have concluded that success is enhanced through the interplay of relationships, emotions and knowledge through verbal and non-verbal communications.

I have always found it difficult to say the words, “I am a success.” From my childhood, I learned that drawing attention to myself and touting my victories are characteristics of a self-centered person. This is why acknowledging my personal success through my effort to help someone else is difficult to acknowledge. I am now learning when to acknowledge and revel in my success.

The societal nature of success has a profound impact on me. Growing a friend’s success not only helps them; it comes full circle to help me. I grow from the positive feedback I receive. I grow from the knowledge I gain in the conversation. As a recipient, I complete this cycle of success. Success builds success. You can be the giver or the taker. In either role, you move a little forward in living a more successful life.

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