May 14, 2011

The Class of 1960's most likely to succeed reflects on "What is success?"


For some unknown reason our blogger- in-chief likes the picture of me studying papers on a bulletin board . That picture is captioned “Most Likely to Succeed”. That honor has meant a great deal to me and has led me and others to wonder if I did in fact succeed. Introspection on my part, curiosity on theirs. I was a teacher in our school and our district for more than 31 years. Did I ever move on? Could such a career be called a success? Just what is success anyway?

One of the Greek philosophers warned that no man should be judged a success until his days were over. The quote is also ascribed to Samuel Johnson and Rabbi Zusha, but I know it's older. Trust me on that, after all you voted me Most Likely to Succeed.

Erik Erikson is a psychologist who listed eight stages of development, the final being old age (that's us) which involves looking back and deciding if we are satisfied with our lives and finally declaring ourselves to have succeeded (or not). I like both of these ideas, because they require a perspective on our accomplishments that is lacking when we only judge by some early, meteoric rise that might be followed by a crash and burn catastrophe. Think of sensational rookies in sports or a Bernie Madoff – early success is no guarantee of a happy ending.

In addition to withholding judgment until the end, there is also the issue of what standard determines success. There are many ways to succeed. Ask yourself these questions – did I contribute to raising a child or grandchild who is a positive influence in the world – did I support an aging parent, or a friend who was ill or suffering emotionally – was I there when my neighbors or community needed help - did I somehow leave my corner of the world better than when I found it – did I make others happy, not just myself – have I used my abilities to make a life for myself and my family – are there people in my life who would testify that I had succeeded?

If you can respond positively to one or more of these questions, you have indeed succeeded. I believe it's that simple. There are innumerable ways to succeed. Hearing life stories at reunions and reading them on Frank's blog makes me believe that not my picture but the picture of the entire class of '60 belongs over the caption “Most Likely to Succeed”.


Early DAHS Most Likely to Succeeds
1960 Dewain Lanfear
1961 Tom Toscano
1962 Stephen Ashwal
1963 Jeff Harriton
1964 Edward Glucksman, Louise Gallo
1965 Renie Herman, Joe MacDonald
1966 No information
1967 Dyanne Speer, David Schnapf
1968 Debbie Heinecke, Charlene Wiener, Mike Swartz, Brian Kennan


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