成功與自律

By Robert J. Tamasy

成功的時候,自律似乎更困難。一位不知名人士說:「成功會餵養自尊心,讓人在成功時變得驕傲以及過度自信。」

在每天的新聞當中,我們都可以看到一些企業家、職業運動家以及其他的名人,趾高氣昂地接受各式各樣的阿諛奉承,沉迷在媒體的鎂光燈之下。除了成功之外,好像沒有甚麼其他的事物能讓一個人的自我形象膨脹到這種程度。

這樣的現象在職場也是如此,有些人把重要的生意收起來之後,才發現他們的自尊難以維持。當一個人得到升遷時,把自己看得比以前還重要的試探就來了。人得到名聲之後,的確需要一段時間來「駕馭」它。

不過,這也不是甚麼新鮮事,因為無論甚麼世代的人都可能會遇到這樣的試探。一百五十年前,美國總統亞伯拉罕林肯就觀察到:「幾乎所有的人都可以忍受厄運,但是如果你要試探一個人的人格,就給他權力。」在他看來,一個人的品格不會在殘酷的權力遊戲裡面展現出來;成功的時候,缺仍然保持謙卑才是真正擁有好品格。

許多個世紀以前,使徒保羅就寫信給在羅馬的基督徒。「我憑著所賜我的恩對你們各人說:不要看自己過於所當看的;要照著神所分給各人信心的大小,看得合乎中道。(羅馬書123)換句話說,我們應該用合宜的眼光看自己的成就。

在保羅之前,耶穌基督也教導我們真正謙虛的美德。祂說: 「凡自高的,必降為卑;自卑的,必升為高。」(馬太福音2312).

美國總統亞伯拉罕林肯說出自己的看法: 權力和地位能測試一個人的品格,但比他更早,幾千年前聖經的箴言其實已經有類似的教導: 「鼎為煉銀,爐為煉金,人的稱讚也試煉人。(箴言2721). 一如林肯所說的,我們能忍耐患難,但是在順境中我們還能保持好品德,就顯示出一個人的真正的品格了。

那麼我們應該如何去回應順境呢?我們都想在自己的職場上和個人生活上成功,但是不能把這個目標當作最高的生活指導原則。如果我們拒絕被成功的驕傲掌控,就會發現其他的讚美會出現。「要別人誇獎你,不可用口自誇;等外人稱讚你,不可用嘴自稱。 (箴言272)

另外一些經文也教導我們最好的方法就是-定睛在神身上,他會給我們機會、才幹以及成功的資源。「這律法書不可離開你的口,總要晝夜思想,好使你謹守遵行這書上所寫的一切話。如此,你的道路就可以亨通,凡事順利。(約書亞記18).

勞勃.泰默西「最佳狀態的商業:箴言給今日職場的歷久彌新智慧」(Business At Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today”s Workplace的作者;他也與David A. Stoddard合著一本書「導師之心」(The Heart of Mentoring他的雙週部落格www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com

省思問題討論

你同意在成功時,自律不是一件容易的事嗎?請分享你的理由。 你可以分享一個例子,是一個名人或是你認識的某一個人,無法掌控成功的故事嗎? 你覺得一個人面對成功、權力和其他形式的財富的態度,和一個人如何面對困境一樣,都是人格的考驗嗎?請分享你的理由。 我們要採取甚麼步驟,來維持自己在職場和個人生活上,無論順境逆境都保有真正的謙卑呢?

備註: 如果你有聖經,希望了解更多關於這個主題的經文,請參考:箴言11章2節、15章33節、16章18-19節、22章4節;腓立比書2章3-11節;歌羅西書3章12節;彼得前書5章5-6節

SUCCESS AND SELF-CONTROL

By Robert J. Tamasy

“At no time is self-control more difficult than in times of success.” I do not know the originator of this unattributed quote, but it seems to carry a lot of wisdom. Success has an annoying habit of feeding egos, puffing up those who succeed with pride and overconfidence.

We can see this every day in the news – entertainers, professional athletes and other celebrities strutting about proudly, basking in the adulation they receive and reveling in media spotlight that shines on them. Few things have the effect of bloating one”s self-image more than success.

This phenomenon manifests itself in the marketplace as well. Sales executives closing important sales in rapid succession and then finding great difficulty containing their egos. A person receives a promotion, and suddenly becomes tempted to regard himself as more important than he was before. Someone else receives a prestigious award and before long she proceeds to “lord it over” her peers and colleagues.

This is hardly new; it is a problem that has spanned the ages. More than 150 years ago, then U.S. President Abraham Lincoln observed, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man”s character, give him power.” In his view, strength of character is revealed not in the brutish exercise of authority, but in one”s ability to retain a sense of humility in the wake of success.

Many centuries earlier, the apostle Paul wrote about this to Christians in ancient Rome, admonishing, Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment” (Romans 12:3). In other words, we should strive to keep our successes and personal victories in proper perspective.

Even before Paul made that observation, Jesus Christ taught about the virtues of genuine humility. He said, “For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Matthew 23:12).

And thousands of years before Abraham Lincoln offered his thoughts about how power and status can test character, the writer in the Old Testament book of Proverbs made a similar observation. “The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but man is tested by the praise he receives” (Proverbs 27:21). As Lincoln noted, while we tend to perceive adversity and hardship as severe tests, how we respond when things are going very well can be just as revealing.

How then should we respond when success comes our way, whatever that endeavor might be? We all want to succeed in our work, as well as in our personal lives. But that does not warrant practically breaking our arms patting ourselves on the back. If we refuse to let success go to our heads, we may well find commendation coming from other sources: “Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; someone else, and not your own lips”(Proverbs 27:2).

Another passage instructs that focusing on God, who provides us with the opportunities, talents and resources to succeed, is the best approach: “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful” (Joshua 1:8).

© 2017. Robert J. Tamasy has written Business at Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today”s Workplace; Tufting Legacies; coauthored with David A. Stoddard, The Heart of Mentoring, and edited numerous other books. His website is www.bobtamasy-readywriterink.com, and his biweekly blog is: www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com.

Reflection/Discussion Questions

Do you agree with the assertion that self-control can be very difficult when experiencing times of success? Why or why not? Can you think of an example, whether it is a famous person or someone you know personally, whose behavior demonstrated that they could not manage to keep success in proper perspective? If so, how was that exhibited? Why do you think the way people handle success, power, and other forms of prosperity can become as much a test of character as how they respond to adversity? What steps can we take to ensure that we maintain a sense of genuine humility – even in advance of achieving success – whether in our work, our businesses, or personal pursuits?

NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages: Proverbs 11:2, 15:33, 16:18-19, 22:4; Philippians 2:3-11; Colossians 3:12; 1 Peter 5:5-6

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