What is Success?

So often in life success is defined through comparison.  Rich people are deemed successful because they have more money than most.  Smart people are successful when they do better on standardized tests than others.  There is one major concern and frustration with this.  According to this definition of success, all of us, despite our best efforts, we will always be failures.  There will always be someone with more money; there will always be someone who does better than us at school, or at work.   We can never really achieve success if that success is based on comparison. 

While talking with some of our Calo students recently I learned of some of the struggles that have bothered them throughout their lives.  They look at others, and like themselves less.  They feel they are not as pretty, or athletic or musically inclined.  They feel like there is always something wrong with them and it makes it difficult for them to try new things and take risks.  Relationships are scary because they feel like they are not good enough.  They are craving opportunities to feel successful, but are not confident in their own abilities.

Our goal this year in Rec. Therapy is to redefine success.  We have adopted this year the definition of success described by Albert Bandura from Stanford University.  Success is measured in terms of self-improvement rather than by triumphs over others.  As we seek to improve ourselves rather than compare ourselves to others, we open the door to the possibility of truly loving ourselves.  This love of self creates a strong core belief that we are worth something, and that we are important.

In an attempt to help students feel success on a very personal and individual level, we are preparing for an extended bike ride.  Some students will ride 50 miles on this bike ride, some 100 and others will finish somewhere in between.  Their total distance is not important because what they will all experience is the opportunity to do their best and accomplish a difficult task that will require months of training.  They will demonstrate an ability to set and achieve goals.  Most importantly they will demonstrate self- improvement over the course of this recreational therapy sequence and in doing so they will experience true success.