Redefining Success


This blog was written by, and is posted on behalf of, CEEK’s first intern Gene Huneycutt. Gene was an engineering student at NC State and is now embarking on a promising teaching career in California to pursue a greater impact in the world. His impact on CEEK was tremendous. He is a young man with strong values and principles as evidenced by the insights below.

(From Gene Huneycutt) – Many of my friends have told me that they could tell that I would be a millionaire one day. I would just smile, and in my head think, ‘Yeah, I will be.” Being a millionaire is something that has driven me for years. Hitting that one millionth dollar felt like it would mean that I am a success. My motivation to study Engineering in college was, for the most part, to make lots of money.

And then I thought, “What would I do with all that money?”

I had no idea what the money would be for. I wanted the money just for the sake of having the money. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized I wanted to be a millionaire so that I would look impressive. I would be “a success,” someone my friends and family could be proud of. And also, someone I could be proud of.

The more I thought about why I wanted to be a millionaire, the more I realized that being a millionaire actually is not important to me. This left me in a odd position, realizing so many of my decisions were stemming from a lackluster motive. “If being a millionaire is not important to me, then what is?” It felt as if this significant, inauthentic goal of mine disappeared from my life and I had a gaping hole in my success criteria.

I decided that finding fulfillment in my job is important to me, as well as standing for others to love their jobs. This is what I want to be the basis for my decision ­making in my career.

One of my favorite places to practice my stand for others loving their jobs is at the cash register. Whenever I find myself at a checkout, instead of asking my typical “How’s it going today?” I now always ask the cashier, “Do you love your job?”

I have had some cashiers tell me that they really do love their jobs. I ask them “Why do you love it?” I have had some cashiers tell me that their job is “just okay.” I ask them “What are you going to do about that?” And I have had every cashier appreciate the unique question. For me, not only is it a fun way to engage with the clerk, but it is also one of the ways that I stand for people loving their jobs.

Are there any inauthentic goals that you are chasing just to look impressive? Perhaps your criteria for success could use a reevaluation.