Have you ever considered how we race through life without paying attention to the little things that matter? With thirty-nine items on your to-do list and another seventeen at the back of your mind contemplation and self-examination become a luxury that can only be enjoyed when we’re on vacation — or confined to a sickbed. You are busy working hard to achieve success at the expense of everything else.

Most people are familiar with the metaphor of opportunity dressing in work clothes. However few realise the subtle but real danger of working one’s soul to death. (See Mark 8:36) Work is a blessing and a critical factor in the equation of success. But it can also become a curse when it’s not reined in by sense of purpose or tethered to a strong value system.

[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#000000″ txt_color=”#ffffff”]Apart from doing significant damage to our physical, emotional and spiritual health, living on the fast lane has made us insensitive to the needs and feelings of others.[/mks_pullquote]

We can only leave our best legacy when we relate intelligently with the elements of our lives in such a way as to fulfil our highest potentials while positively impacting our spheres of influence and bringing glory to God. From time to time we are presented with seemingly insignificant opportunities that are orchestrated to help us grow in this direction but we’re often too busy to notice or too tired to make sense of it.

A little over a month ago, I experienced one of such opportunities when I had an altercation with a white supremacist who called me unprintable names on Twitter simply because I am from Africa. It’s bad enough that he would make baseless accusations against a total stranger but he took it even farther, saying that all Africans are animals and rapists.

I found that very offensive. So I simply replied with as much kindness as could be expected from an aggrieved defendant. That seemed fair enough until I shared our conversation with a group of friends who showed me that I could have responded more thoughtfully. One person that particularly got me thinking was Naomi from Ghana.

“Don’t let this experience ruin your day,” she said. “I know it was reflex and maybe I’d have responded the same way you did but I wish you answered him kindly. For example, by asking if he’s having a bad day and you didn’t mean to upset him and Africa isn’t all bad and hope he gets to experience different. After, this, you say no more unless he’s no more rude and disrespectful… Just my two pesewas. 😊”

What a world of difference that would have made! This experience taught me how important it is to be kind and polite to people even when they don’t seem to deserve it. Those who seem to least deserve kindness are often the ones who are most in need of it. And don’t we all find ourselves in such situation at times?

Don't react to provocations and ruin your day; rather respond with kindness. -@ashleygreygh Share on X

Apart from doing significant damage to our physical, emotional and spiritual health, living on the fast lane has made us insensitive to the needs and feelings of others. We’re just too blind to notice and too busy to care. Is it then surprising that our values are gradually being eroded? We’re so preoccupied with the big wins that we’ve lost sight of the basics.

Living a truly successful life is like running a production line with several components which depend on one another to achieve the desired outcome. It’s not enough to have a semblance of success in business, career or some other component. True success is an all-round affair and it begins with holding yourself responsible to a set of personal values irrespective of other people’s actions or behaviours. That’s how to achieve self mastery which is the centre that holds other elements together. Without it, whatever measure of success we have achieved will fall apart when subjected to extreme temperature and pressure.

Success without self-mastery will fall apart under pressure. Share on X

As busy as we are, it’s important that we make out time each day to contemplate our motives, reflect on our actions and reset our perspectives. That way, we can glean valuable insights that will make us live with meaning rather than competing blindly in a race that we’re not called to run.

Question: How would you define success and self-mastery? Which of them do you think is more important? Share with us in the comments.