The Formula for Success

By: Rabbi Yisrael Baron

(Published October 18, 2012 Sunny Isles Beach Community Newspapers)


I used to visit Cliff in his office every week when I would help him put on Tefillin and say a prayer. Cliff was an architect who had been in the business for many years, and was approaching retirement. I respected Cliff tremendously, because his industry had changed dramatically as everything became computerized, and I knew that he had learned to adapt to a whole new way of doing his work.

In conversation, I once asked Cliff what I thought was a very simple question. His answer, however, turned this question into a life lesson for me. I asked him which was the greatest building he had ever designed. His answer was, “Every single one that was completed.” I had wanted him to single out his greatest accomplishment, and he gave me this vague answer, or so I thought. He then went on to explain that a great design was, by far, not the only component of a great building. He elaborated: “A true great design is something that will satisfy the developer in terms of being profitable, satisfy the engineer in being viable, please the inspector in that it can be constructed according to code, and the client, of course, in deeming it worth buying. A great design can be like a good idea. It is worthless unless it can be brought to the finish line, to completion.

Have you ever met anyone who screams at the TV while watching a ball game? Or someone who knows exactly what the President or cabinet members should be doing? We all would like to know what to do in any given situation, and better still, to know what someone else should be doing…if only they would listen to our advice. ‘Then, of course, they’d be wildly successful.’ From Cliff, I learned that we may indeed know what needs to be done, but that might only be one component of a larger equation…and the credit goes to the one who brings any project to that finish line of completion. From Cliff, I learned to respect the success of a finished product. What seems easy, is not always so. Success is built of many components, which when all put together, each in the right measure, add up to that ability to “cross the finish line.” The formula of success is not always what meets the eye.

Now, let’s take this message over to the leading architect of all times, the “Architect of our Universe.” Technology, science, and the accessibility of information have never been as advanced as it is today. Yet, as much as we know, we are still humbled by the vastness and intelligence of the universe that we live in. Everything from the largest galaxy to the minutest detail of every molecule is engineered so precisely. What amazes me the most is how this all comes together in total synthesis. Our universe, however, is far from perfect, and it is up to us to take this project to completion, and cross the finish line. The true success of this world can be achieved by us when we choose to become active participants in the entire process, and make this world shine. In comparison to the vastness of all of creation, our job is quite small. We just need to turn on the lights. But that little act will give us the credit of getting the whole universe past the finish line, and make it truly complete.