ICS Magazine

A Life Well Lived

February 6, 2001
: In his premiere column, Steve Toburen reminds everyone success in business does not automatically equal success in life.

Success: exciting, elusive, frustrating. Difficult to attain, “success” is even harder to define. The dictionary says success is the “attainment of wealth, favor or eminence.” But this one-size-fits-all definition ignores the basic fact that success is something very personal—an individual’s private beliefs, morals and goals.

However, we all face a common problem in our individual search for success. Stephen R. Covey calls it, “Focusing on the thick of thin things.” Reflect on that statement, and then think about your life over the past week. How often did you allow the “urgent problems” of the day to win out over the “important things” in your life?

This may be heresy in a magazine devoted to winning in the cleaning industry, but your success should be measured in more than number of truck mounts or company gross volume. Somehow, we keep forgetting that succeeding in business does not automatically equal success in life. A “life well lived” is a complex stew. However, here are some “success ingredients” humbly submitted as reminders for your consideration.

Family: I sadly confess that I have no significant memories of my kids’ early years. My burning obsession to succeed in business cost me something I can never regain—the precious childhood of my two wonderful children. Don’t make the same mistake I did. Even worse, constant business pressures have destroyed a large number of marriages. It’s just not worth it.

Friends: What’s the worst possible comment on a “life poorly lived”? “He died and no one mourned him.” All of us have a need to connect with others, to make a difference in other’s lives. There are some great people in this industry that can become lifelong friends (just one more reason to get involved in trade associations.) And of course, don’t fall into the trap of thinking all of your friends must be carpet cleaners!

Emotional and Spiritual Growth: Don’t worry, I’m not going to “go there” and make this a religious column! But all of us need to believe in more than just eating, sleeping and working. Does your business let you focus on the “more important things”?

Giving of Ourselves: I can’t say it any better than a great teacher 2,000 years ago, “There is more happiness in giving than receiving.” Remember, it’s easy to give money, but your time, affections and emotions are infinitely more precious gifts to bestow.

Have Fun: I made a lot of mistakes in my 20+ years down in the trenches of the cleaning industry. But maybe my biggest mistake was not having enough fun, just enjoying the day. I was (Sioux says I still am!) too focused, too obsessed, and too compulsive. Life is too short to not have some daily fun.

Love What You Do: “Find a job that you love, and you will never work another day in your life.” Sure, chances are that like me, you never planned to become a carpet cleaner. But here you are! Take pride in your work, advance in your business skills and (dare I say it?) enjoy dealing with your customers, and yes, even your employees! Far too many carpet cleaners are curmudgeons, trudging through their day, grudgingly doing as little as possible.

Heavy stuff, all this. After all, most of us just went into carpet cleaning as a means to an end, a way to pay the bills. But success, just like life, is a journey and not a destination. Stop, reflect, and meditate on the six “success ingredients” listed above. Do you have a balanced mix in your life? Success does not have to be a future target, it’s a daily venture based on choosing how you will live each moment.

Bob Dylan puts it nicely, “A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night and in between does what he wants to do.” Chances are you are already such a “success.”

ICS magazine and I wish you an even more successful future. We hope that this column, To Your Success, will help you achieve a "life well lived."