At my ripe old age of 59, I have the luxury of looking back at my life and making sense of its different aspects. I have no adolescent illusions about reaching ‘for the moon and back’ anymore. I have learned through intimate experience that ambition can only get you so far. To really make a success out of your lived journey, you need to take care of the human-relational parts of your affairs. And how you end up treating people ultimately speaks a lot about your individual growth prospects.
Drawing My Writing Inspiration from the Godfather Franchise
The reason why I decided to pen this blog post is simple. In the days of teaching English in Japan, I was watching reruns of the Godfather series and it got me thinking. The Italian American Corleone mafia family, around which the spectacle is centered, was a bad lot.
And that is an understatement.
They were criminals bent upon evading the authorities and competing against other mafia establishments for greater territorial control. In their quest to do so, they committed murder and made frequent moves towards public harassment and intimidation.
But on a family-level, I found certain character traits that they exhibited quite admirable.
Despite all their blatant, outward flaws, they were a loyal bunch. They had strong family values and centered everything on keeping their patriarchal unit afloat. Betrayal was more painful to them than anything else. They tended to move and plan everything as a unit. Their strong emotional currents, which drew on Italian stereotypes of blood and kinship, led them to make huge sacrifices. And on those occasions when they had everything working against them, they still had the family to come back to.
My Criteria for Personal Success: Relationships & Family Bonds
As a businessman myself (one thankfully given to dealing in legitimate trades and transactions), I cherish these qualities. They speak to me of a stable kind of success that I wish I had. A semblance of a life that came with both material and emotional fulfillment. Which, I need to confess to a certain degree of sadness, largely eluded me.
In my relentless drive to increase my bank balance and personal notoriety, I sacrificed my very own loved ones. I disregarded their pleas for empathy and understanding in my insatiable lust for progress.
And on one ill-fated day, I got divorce letters from my wife of twenty years. From the woman who had stood by my side unwaveringly, as I embarked on my industrial conquests. My two sons filed for emancipation proceedings only a week later. Their reasons for taking these final steps were summed up neatly by their joint legal team: He is not a human being, but a machine with little to zero emotional consideration to spare.
And looking back now on my appalling behavior over the course of our family life, I cannot say that I blame them. I would have left me too, had I treated myself as poorly as I did them.
Why Material Attainment is a Poor Barometer for Achievement
Although we all aim to generate money, we generally hinge our happiness solely on its possession.
Living life without considerable monetary resources at one’s disposal is a sure-fire way of inviting misery. There’s no question about this, particularly given the state of the modern global economy & living expenses.
But the problem arises when we start to think of currency, in itself, as the desirable end of all our efforts. And as any successful professional would relate of this issue, this is the point where the seeds of our psychological corruption set in.
Corruption is not only of a monetary kind. It can also indicate a personal type of perversion; one that grips the heart and mind (and is hard to let go of). This quickly morphs into a bad influence and leads to people committing all kinds of mistakes on the relationships front. Thereafter, they wrongly like to think that the bling of cash and material goods can do away with their need for human companionship. That they can literally curl up against a wade of dollars to usher in a peaceful nighttime sleep.
Success Depends on Human Development and Expression
But perhaps what is most troubling is their faith in the ability of the currency to buy people, and in particular their emotions.
There is simply no substitute for genuine human devotion which, like most of the good things in life, is not available for purchase. It has to be cultivated gently, and with patience.
This powerful connection, built preferably with one’s core family, sustains you. It cherishes your soul in a way that money, or all the other finery in the world, can never hope to.
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