Success Without Fulfillment Equals Failure

The following is an excerpt from the remarks that were made at the DFHS National Honor Society Induction on June 1, 2017.

This morning we have students who are being inducted into at least one, and in some cases two, honor societies: They are the Italian Honor Society, the French Honor Society, the Spanish Society, and of course the National Honor Society. Admission into any one of these Honor Societies is an extraordinary accomplishment, and is a recognition of the years of hard work and service of the students in this room.

So what does it mean to be a member of an Honor Society? For starters, we know that all of you are exceptional students in the academic sense.  You work hard, set goals, take action, and have maintained the exemplary grade point average necessary for admission. This is no small feat, and you undoubtedly deserve to be recognized and congratulated for your academic accomplishments.  So, congratulations to each of you.

But is being a smart person enough? No, it’s not. Is it only about grades? No, it’s definitely not. We can unfortunately point to many examples of highly intelligent people who achieved top grades in school but were ultimately not successful at all. Though they might be rich in terms of money,  or they may have top positions in their respective field, some of these same people are actually very poor. So there needs to be more. The Honor Society is built on four pillars: Scholarship, Service, Leadership, and Character. And while scholarship is certainly a component, it’s only 25 percent of what is truly needed for ultimate success and fulfillment. So let’s take a moment to consider the last three pillars: Service, Leadership, and Character. How are these qualities measured? How do we know if we are hitting the mark in these areas?  

The truth is that there is no true measure for these qualities, so the measure therefore lies within each of you. I always enjoy preparing opening remarks at events like this one because it requires me to pause and truly reflect on my own journey, and to hopefully share some insight based on what I have learned.  It seems that the older I get, the less I know. And each year I realize how little I knew the year before. Such is life. You may not know what I mean right now. But you will. Trust me on that.  

So the question that we are left to consider is what is truly required for personal fulfillment?  And is there honor in that? The answers to these questions again lie within each of you, but what I can tell you is that true fulfillment will come only through a commitment to ongoing personal growth and improvement. Remember, success without fulfillment equals failure. Success without fulfillment equals failure  (T. Robbins). So how do we achieve both of those states? By committing ourselves to constant growth. We need to grow. Sure, we need to grow in terms of scholarship, but more importantly we need to grow in terms of our quality as individuals. We need to be true to ourselves, honest in our approach, and connected to the people in our lives who matter most. And one of the ways that we do that is by being selfless in our actions, by leading through example rather than empty words, and by holding ourselves to the highest standard of character even though we may not always do the right thing. We are human and are not perfect. But it’s the commitment to learning from mistakes, reflecting, and growing that will bring true honor and fulfillment when all’s said and done.  

Always remember that induction to the Honor Society is a beginning, not an end. The principles that we are emphasizing today are guiding principles that will carry you through life. They are targets that we always strive for, and are ones that we should never truly feel like we have fully reached. They guide our journey as we strive to be the very best people we can be, and in doing so will propel us to inspire others and truly change the world.

Congratulations to all of you once again. Please continue to make your school proud, your teachers proud, your parents proud, and most importantly yourself proud. Thank you.



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