The True Measure of Success

Posted: February 1, 2011 in A Thought As It Happened

It was about a year ago when I was shown a YouTube video that changed my life forever. It was a ballet performance by Ma Li and Zhai Xiaowei. It was quite a performance if you ask me, but what blew me away was the fact that they were both physically impaired. Despite their impairment they both overcame insuperable odds to dance and dance they did.

The true test of success….

The girl (Ma, Li) lost her right arm in a car accident in 1996. This almost certainly put an end to the promising professional ballerina, who was on her way to greatness. 19 and in the peak of development of her love life, her boyfriend left her after the accident. Naturally after having her dreams and heart broken by the accident and then again by the man she loved she tried to kill herself. With a strong family love an support system she saw a reason to live and this would blossom into her achieving her dreams once more. Overtime she learned to cook, clean and wash clothes and so could live independently. She learned to write Chinese beautifully, comb her hair among other things. In 2001, her dream was realized after being invited to compete at a national special performing arts  competition for the physically impaired where she won the gold medal.

Four years later she met  21-year-old (Zhai, Xiaowei), who was being trained to be a cyclist for the national special Olympics. Never danced a day in his life, he lost is leg in an accident at the age of four after falling off a tractor. Over the years he attempted high-jump, long-jump, diving, swimming, and just settled on cycling. His coach believed that he would be able to get 2-3 gold medals in the national special Olympics games.  He initially didn’t understand how he could “dance,” so Li invited him to see her performing “Hand in Hand” with another male actor. He felt that he saw a perfect soul dancing on the stage and agreed to give it a try. Li treated him like her younger brother and trained at her home for more than a year. One would not be able to imagine the kind of challenges and difficulties they faced. He had NO dancing background and she is a perfectionist.  In April they were one of the finalists among 7000 competitors in the 4th CCTV national dance competition. It is the first time a handicapped couple ever entered the competition. They won the Silver medal with the 99.17 high score and not to mention the highest audience popular votes. They became an instant national hit.

Now I’m not one to be ungrateful for how I am. Everyday I thank God for life, good health and sanity. Likewise, I pray for the courage, strength, wisdom and understanding to deal with all the challenges that come with each day. One of my greatest fears ever is becoming impaired. Whether it be physically or mentally, I ensure that I always say a thank you prayer for continuous good health.

After seeing this video I was so blown away that I could not believe it. Then I thought to myself, this is the true measure of success. But what is success? Success seems to vary from person to person and territory to territory largely because of culture and personal beliefs. For some success is measured by material wealth: money, large house, expensive luxury vehicle and a dream job, after all society dictates this. For others, success is measured by more personal achievements such as living life exactly how they wanted, doing exactly what they wanted to do and this does not necessarily involve the large house, expensive car and millions in net worth.

For me success is much more personal. I am successful as long as I remain happy and can positively impact on the life of those I come into contact with. If at the end of the day I can I say I lived my life the way I wanted to, then I was successful. Sure I want a nice house, nice vehicle and to work as an UN executive in the future, while traveling the world. More so I live for my dream job in social marketing and to travel the world. I live for changing the lives of others for the better, I live for loving life and I live for learning. For these reasons if I can say I did all that I wanted to do then I would be successful.

I believe success should be tied more to personal development than material assets. The fact that these two could learn to balance themselves, much less to dance is what the true measure of success is about. Their story and their determination and drive says  a lot about us as humans. The will to continue despite the gloomy experiences with which we are met are a testament to our true capabilities. Their daringness to continue to dream, to live, to love and to dance truly says a lot about their personal development. This is real success, this is what dreams are made of, seriously. True success is loving what you do and doing what you love, making a change not only in your life but to inspire others to do the same. Sometimes all we need is a word of inspiration and motivation to empower us to aspire for more and be the best that we can be. A story like theirs and dance like they did is one such message of motivation and inspiration.

I will be all that I want for that is the true meaning of my success. I live  to dream and dream of living, that is what I am working for and what I will achieve, my true success. What about you?


  1. Corve says:

    I watched the video and I was impressed not because of their physical disabilities but because they were good period.

    You are a star and you will do well. Keep pressing on.

  2. Lawman Lynch says:

    This is a very good article… i think it can serve as a motivational tool in youth development. The video is a subject to start dialogue… but heh, you’re at CARIMAC, i’m sure you can create additional material that would spark interesting discussion… yep… Jamaican youth needs motivation. We are in a better position that we think.

  3. Alana says:

    I stumbled across your blog…merely because I am a blog addict and I love reading what others have to say. I really enjoyed this post it was very motivational and inspiring.

    I work with young people and it’s very apparent to me that these are the things they need to hear as alot of young people seem to get sucked into negativity and cannot see a way out. Anyway I could go on as i am passionate about things like this but I won’t. Great post! 😉

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