A Different Kind of Success
Essays 2017 / Finalists
MyLife Essay Contest 2017
The nature of the human-being is to strive for more. Whether in our relationships, art, business or personal struggles, we strive to do better and be better.
But striving for success is really a shallow exercise without a clear picture of what we are really after. Somebody who strives for more money, doesn’t usually care about the money, he cares about what he can do with the money. And once he spends that money, it’s not usually about what he bought, but what those items do for him emotionally, physically and psychologically.
So the first step to achieving success in any area is to discover our underlying purpose. By doing so we give ourselves the opportunity and tools to pursue our real goals and dreams. We must know what we want, and discover what is possible.
And to discover what is possible, we need to understand why we exist.
- • •
- Ramaz: Our purpose is to transform Creation bottom-up, elevating it back to its original state of G-dliness.
- Pardes: Our purpose is to refine Creation top-down, drawing Divinity into the limitations of our physical world.
The Rebbe Rashab asks: Is the objective of humanity to eradicate evil? Or is it to achieve infinity?
The two options represent two very different approaches:
⬆ Ramaz: The Transformer ⬆
- Mission: The human mission is to ultimately transform evil to good.
- Method: Bottom-Up – Elevate the mundane to the Divine.
A Transformer reaches a goal by changing his circumstances. He doesn’t suffice with improving a situation; his aim is to revolutionize it. He sees the world in extremes, and will fight for what is right no matter the cost. He is not tied to the constraints of a situation. He seeks new ideas and is unafraid of applying radical or unrelated solutions to solve a problem.
His spiritual path is ״בכל לבבך״ – “a new you”. He works towards transformative change so that even his animal desires assist in his achievement of purpose. He repairs Creation by standing up to evil and ultimately elevating it to good.
⬇ Pardes: The Perfector ⬇
- Mission: The human mission is to make our finite world infinite
- Method: Top-Down – Draw the Divine into the mundane.
A Perfector finds success through unceasing progress. He reaches perfection through the thorough development of a situation. He explores all possible avenues in his quest for success. He is humble; he knows that he can’t achieve perfection on his own. Yet he is also confident; he asks for help, and his humility elicits generosity.
His spiritual path is ״בכל נפשך״– “the best possible you”. He is relentless in his search for opportunities to develop his relationship with G-d. He is on a mission to discover and understand truth. He endeavours to make himself a vessel to receive G-d’s infinite light and blessing. He perfects the world by flooding it with goodness.
The Transformer has Perfector represent two vastly different approaches that radically influence the way they approach life and it’s challenges.
- Transformer: Love is when you find someone who changes you. Look for a partner who is your opposite and helps you see things from a new perspective.
- Perfector: Love is when you find someone who fulfills you. Look for a partner who broadens your personality and horizons.
- Transformer: Create revolutionary products, challenge the status-quo.
- Perfector: Develop your products, expand your market, take advantage of changing trends.
- Transformer: The core of music is its structure: Invent new scales, time-signatures and musical instruments.
- Perfector: The core of music is its development: Compose new songs, expand genre and symphony.
- Transformer: Commit to change. Make an honest and firm commitment to fight to the end.
- Perfector: Open yourself up to a Higher Power Who will give you the strength to succeed.
- Transformer: Battle the impulse, install filters on your computer, aim for self-mastery.
- Perfector: Sidetrack yourself by broadening your life and personality with hobbies and other interests.
These two approaches are not mutually exclusive. Although the Transformer and Perfector are two very different approaches, they flow seamlessly from one to the next:
Love: Opposites attract, but attraction is not a foundation for a life together. Make sure you are in a relationship that will allow you to grow.
Business: A company built around the creation of revolutionary products is great. Now develop your product and market.
Music: Inventing the violin was the revolution; playing the violin is the music.
Addiction, Chatas Ne’urim: Fight the good fight. Use your struggle as an opportunity to grow in other areas.
One can lead a very purposeful life following these two steps. But you’ll notice that they are subjective. Even selfish. What can I get out of my relationship? How can I heal or become a better person? How can I make more money? How can I get what I want or take advantage of a skill for my maximum benefit?
Is that really the purpose of Humanity in Creation? That we should achieve personal harmony? That we should perfect a world that could have been created perfect in the first place?
- • •
The Midrash Shmuel posits that the purpose of Creation is not to repair the world, but to make the world a G-dly habitat. Elevating it Bottom-Up, and drawing G-d’s light Top-Down are secondary to the true purpose: achieving Unity of G-d and Creation.
It’s a revolutionary approach because the Transformer and Perfector find purpose through improving their world and lives. The Midrash Shmuel on the other hand finds purpose through pleasing G-d, and extraordinarily, in doing so, also improves his world and life in a much more substantial way than the Transformer and Perfector.
It is an approach that presents us with a fundamentally different way to interact with life and it’s challenges.
๏ Midrash Shmuel – The Unifier ๏
- Mission: The human mission is to make the world a G-dly habitat.
- Method: Unity: Mundane and Divine united as One.
A Unifier is objective. He is not focused on the self or on the subjective development of a particular skill or idea. He deals with challenges from a macro perspective. He understands root causes and seeks to solve the larger issues at play, resulting in the automatic resolution of the micro and subjective ones.
His spiritual path is ״בכל מאדך״ – “it’s not about you”. His focus isn’t to be close to G-d; it’s to be a conduit of G-d’s will.
The Unifier doesn’t ask “What do I want”, but “What is is needed”, and this approach brings unique results:
Love: Love your spouse not because of what you each get from the relationship, but because the relationship itself is much greater than the sum of its parts.
Music: Use your skill not just to create good music, but as a tool to inspire and bring people and ideas together.
Business: Ensure that your company contributes to civilization. Make sure it improves the lives of the people who work there and creates a better, safer, more peaceful world.
Addiction: Use your new sense of purpose and your sobriety to help others.
Chatas Ne’urim: Don’t get bogged down in the fight. Instead, discover and identify with your deeper purpose and rewire your brain.
It’s not easy becoming a Unifier.
A recovering addict risks a relapse when he gets into the trenches and helps addicts who are still in the throes of struggle. A musician whose passion switches from music to activism may lose his fans. A CEO who changes focus from ‘business as money-machine’ to ‘business as a tool to make a better world’ risks losing money and the confidence of her shareholders.
But because the Unifier sees the larger picture he experiences a level of growth unfathomable to the Transformer and Perfector.
Love: Relationships which are experienced as an end in itself and built on values rather than love alone result in deeper bonds that don’t buckle under the weight of personal expectations.
Addiction: Studies show that recovering alcoholics who dedicate themselves to helping other alcoholics are significantly more successful maintaining their own recovery.
Business: The explosive success of many modern companies is arguably because their missions are not just to make money but to bring people and the world together.
Music: The most successful musicians are not the one’s who are technically the most proficient; but the ones who inspire their fans through their music.
By focusing on the bigger picture, the Unifier finds unparalleled success. He builds a strong relationships AND experiences deep love. He changes the world through his business AND makes money. He helps others in their sobriety AND finds revolutionary healing for himself. He changes the world AND changes himself.
- • •
If you take a look at the seven generations of Chabad leaders, you will notice a fascinating trend. The chassidus of the first four Rebbes, beginning with the Alter Rebbe, had a Transformer-like emphasis on self improvement. How do I elevate myself from evil?
The fifth and sixth Rebbes, the Rashab, and the Rayatz, had a more Perfector-like approach–focusing instead on G-d’s influence on creation and humanity. How do I draw G-d into my life and into my world?
The Rebbe’s approach was different. He was not focused on micro ideas of self-growth but on macro ideas of world change. He realized that focusing outwards was the most effective way to create revolutions and that those revolutions would not just change the world, but change oneself. In his first talk upon assuming the mantle of leadership of the Chabad movement he explained that our generation’s role is to unite G-d and Creation by bringing Mashiach. Or in Chassidic terms: Dirah B’Tachtonim.
We are the Unifier generation. We have the tools to create revolutionary success. Whether finding love, making music, starting a business, battling our demons, or bringing Mashiach, adopt the perspective of the Unifier and achieve unparalleled success for the world and yourself:
- Turn your focus outward
- Figure out the big-picture potential of your talent, personal challenge, idea or goal
- Prioritize deed over talk
- Find a way to positively influence your environment
- Find a way to positively influence people outside your normal environment
- Don’t let self-improvement overshadow world-improvement
- Choose broadmindedness over insularity
- Reveal the common threads between different ideas
- Put aside your ego and be objective
- Realize that conflict is just on the surface; dig and you will always find unity
- Love and serve your fellow unconditionally
- Know that you can change the world
- Do something daily to change the world
- Trust that what is happening to you is good
- Be happy and confident because G-d loves you
In short: Understand that it’s not about you, yet it’s all about you.
It requires a radical mind shift. Everything changes: Your relationships, your art, your business, your life, your world. Success takes on a different meaning.
But you will find real purpose and real success. ๏
TABLE: THE STAGES OF PURPOSE
|Stage 1 – Ramaz
|Stage 2 – Ramak
|Stage 3 – Midrash Shmuel
Create a new reality
Realize your fullest potential
You are a means to a goal
|Goal of creation (Ranat)||
|Chassidus Style and Focus||
|Eg 1: Kavana of Tefilin||
|Eg 2: Addiction||
|Eg 3: Intimacy||
|Eg 4: Chatas Neurim||
(Avoid sin, install web filters)
(Fill life with positive alternatives)
(It’s not relevant to me)
|Eg 6: Business||
Examples of Historical Application
Individual to individual
Individual to Everyone
Everyone to Everyone
Sources and Footnotes
 Rashab in 5659 (Ranat), Maamar Podo B’Sholom, and further elucidated by Rayatz in Maamar Podo B’Sholom, Tof-Shin-Daled, 5704
 The three perspectives discussed in the essay (two here, and one later in the essay) are based on differing interpretations of Avos, Ch. 5, Mishna 1:
בעשרה מאמרות נברא העולם. ומה תלמוד לומר, והלא במאמר אחד יכול להבראות? אלא להיפרע מן הרשעים שמאבדין את העולם שנברא בעשרה מאמרות, וליתן שכר טוב לצדיקים שמקימין את העולם שנברא בעשרה מאמרות.
 Rabbi Meir Zacuto (1625 – 1697), Parshas Toldos 135b
״מקום הראשון דז״א היה במקום שעתה הוא אריך ואח״כ ע״י חטא עץ הדעת הורד במקום שהוא עתה. … והלא במאמר א׳ – שהוא מקום אריך – היה יכול להבראות. אלא להפרע כו׳ שפוגמים בז״א… וליתן שכר טוב… שמקיימים את הז״א… עד שמעלים אותו למקומו – היינו מקום אריך…״
 בכל לבבך = בשני יצרך – Serving G-d with all your hearts, both your G-dly and animal inclinations. See Rashab 5656 Maamar Vayaatek Misham, ch. 4
 Pardes by Rabbi Moshe Cordovero (1522-1570), Section 2, Ch. 6
״והלא במאמר א׳ יכול להבראות, ר״ל כי לא היה בנמנע ח״ו להיות בריאת עולם הזה במאמר א׳… והטעם שהוצרך אל העשרה מאמרות הוא כדי שירדו הנבראים אל התכלית והגבול כו׳…״
 בכל נפשך – Serving G-d with your entire existence. See Rashab 5656 Maamar Vayaatek Misham, ch. 4.
 Challenges of masterbation or sexual abstinence.
 Ranat, Hemshech Podo B’Sholom (ibid)
 Written by Rabbi Shmuel ben Yitzchok de Uçeda (1545 – 1604); a kabbalist and student of the Arizal and Rabbi Chaim Vital.
 בכל מאדך – Service on a selfless level revealing one’s soul as a part of G-d’s essence. See Rashab 5656 Maamar Vayaatek Misham, ch. 4.
 See Maamar Lecho Dodi 13 Elul, 5714, for discussion of bride and groom as mashpia and mekabel
 The Rebbe’s advice of “Hesech Hadaas” roughly translates to “Don’t think about it”, but Daas in a chassidic context more accurately translates to “Don’t apply it”. I believe the Rebbe was advising the individual to take the “you” out of it. Not to deny the sin, but to train oneself to view it as a foreign entity that doesn’t represent one’s will or desire. And if a person would fail and commit sin, not to take it so personally that it overtakes one’s life.
 Chappel JN.. Working a program of recovery in Alcoholics Anonymous, J Subst Abuse Treat , 1994, vol. 11 (pg. 99-104). And: Findings from project MATCH, J Stud Alcohol , 2004, vol. 65 (pg. 766-73)
 Sefer Hamamorim, Basi Legani 5711