What does a successful day look like for you?

A tribute to Isaiah Jewett

Joe Wicks asked this question on an episode with Dr. Chatterjee. He challenged the listeners to ask themselves: What does a successful day look like for you? I’ve spent a little bit of time thinking about my answer but need to devote even more time formulating my response. What really defines success? Working out? Dropping off my Amazon returns before the return window closes? Connecting with my kids without getting distracted by my phone?

With the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in full swing, we are currently surrounded by countless examples of success. However, such success is also making me feel distraught. I just watched the documentary, The Weight of Gold, featuring the most successful Olympian of all time, Michael Phelps. Seeing the video combined with watching a runner false start and be eliminated has me feeling unsettled and second guessing what success really means.

The pressure

The Olympics is reminding me about the pressures that we put on our kids. The pressure to succeed. The pressure to be the best. The pressure to get into the best school or make the select team. It has me reconsidering my priorities for my kids.

While I’m all about having goals, the Olympics is reminding me about the importance of process over outcome. Many of these athletes have trained for 4 years — or their whole lives — for a 30 second race, a 5 second vault, or a 50 meter swim across the pool. The focus, commitment, and training are intense; often 7 days a week with no days off. Four years of training for one thirty second performance? Is it worth it? Is anything short of a gold medal then considered a failure?

I have seen gymnasts, divers, and runners all fall mid performance. None of these were the outcomes they envisioned. Undoubtedly, they have performed the exact same routine thousands of times without any hiccups. As hurdler Lolo Jones said in the documentary, she has hit a hurdle with her foot maybe three times in her life. And she hit a hurdle in the 2008 Olympics when the stakes could not be higher.

Process over outcome

All of this has been the reminder I need to enjoy the process. While having goals are important and keep me grounded and inspired, the journey to reach those goals must also have value. The journey, after all, is all we really have. The journey is what is happening right now.

Therefore I have to spend more time and thought about what kind of journey I am on. What is my desired outcome for myself? What is my desired outcome with respect to my children? And is the journey I’m currently on going to take me there? And if I don’t like the journey, am I even going to like the outcome?

Of course sometimes, the process will be challenging, difficult, or stressful which is not always an indicator that anything is wrong with the goal. For example, not every workout is “enjoyable,” but I know the end goal of staying healthy makes the process valuable.

Other times, however, the journey is all we have without a desired outcome in mind. Calm Chaos does not have a clear goal or outcome but rather I love the journey. Where will the journey take me? I have no clue. Which is exciting.

What is success?

So what does a successful day look like for me? Staying calm. Responding instead of reacting. Being honest with myself. Connecting with those that I love. Spending time outside. Engaging in tasks that are inspiring. Getting enough sleep. Empathizing with loved ones and strangers alike. While more time and thought is needed to fully answer this question, it definitely has me reevaluating what defines success.

In closing, this Olympic story from the other day is the greatest display of success I have seen so far. It absolutely was not the outcome that Isaiah Jewett had hoped for but such a beautiful testament to what success really means to him. In case you missed it, Jewett fell mid race during the 800-meter which caused Amos to fall as well.

Jewett was quoted in the Washington Post saying, “Regardless of how mad you are, you have to be a hero at the end of the day,” Jewett said. “That was my version of trying to be a hero, standing up and showing good character, even if it’s my rival or whoever I’m racing or if anything happened. I don’t want to show any bad blood, because that’s what heroes do. They show their humanity through who they are.”

They show their humanity through who they are. Isaiah Jewett, the world has a lot to learn about success from you.

True Olympic spirit on display after runners got tangled up


  1. Jenny, WOW! This is such a powerful post. I am so grateful every time to read your thoughtful and cogent words on parenting and they inspire and help me on my own journey to be the best grandmother that I can be. But, today’s post was inspiring just as a person. I, too, have taken a lot of lessons away from this year’s Olympics but you helped me put together my random musings into a concrete way to think about how best to live one’s day to day life. Thank you!

    • So glad you enjoyed it 😘 That question keeps popping into my mind which is a great reminder that it’s a fluid and evolving answer 💞

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