The Key to Success

By Andrew Donnelly ’20

Throughout my high school journey, I have often struggled with the true meaning of success. For years, I assumed that success was purely objective – that to be successful, one had to be among the smartest, the most talented, or the most athletic. I have slowly begun to realize that this is not always the case; success does not solely depend upon natural ability and skill. It does, however, demand perseverance, hard work, and determination.

Success is simply achieving the most with what you have; this is done by transcending your limitations and shortcomings. For this reason, being successful is something everyone should strive for; it is not reserved only for the intelligent, athletic, or the affluent – it is accessible for all people with enough determination to reach for it. It is a quality that is achievable for all people.

For years, I have put tremendous work into sustaining academic excellence – in some ways, it has become an obsession for me. I have worked tirelessly in pursuit of my goal – an outstanding GPA – only to see the long list of people superseding my name on the honor roll. When I initially realized this, needless to say, I was somewhat disappointed. I felt as though the herculean effort I had been putting forth had merely gotten me average results. I simply felt like another name on a long list of my peers. 

In a competitive environment like Chaminade, it is easy to constantly compare oneself to others. In fact, this healthy competition is part of the fabric here and should be nurtured – it truly motivates many of us to pursue goals and aspirations with a much higher tenacity and passion. The competitive nature of Chaminade High School motivates students to put their best effort forward.

However, it is important to remember that some people are afforded opportunities that others are not, and some of us possess talents that others lack. Because of this, success cannot always be quantified by a GPA, a test grade, or the final score of a sporting event. Although the importance of these quantities cannot be denied, internal success and achievement is all about pushing limits and transcending shortcomings.

For example, the 95% grade on that biology test might leave a scientifically-inclined student with a feeling of indifference. However, to a student who struggles with biology, that same 95% is a milestone to hard work and exceeding limitations – therein lies success.

To a skilled mathematician, scoring 93% on the mathematics comprehensive exam might be underwhelming. To the student who worked vigorously for that same score, this test grade represents success, and the gratification of hard work paying off. For this reason, success can be found in the process, not simply the result.

Looking back on my first three years at Chaminade, I have always been proud of my academic achievement. However, that pride does not stem from my final average or standardized test scores. Rather, it is the result of the challenges I have overcome. Conquering those long nights of homework and relentlessly studying for an upcoming examination is what truly defined my success at Chaminade. 

The key to success both here at Chaminade and in other facets of life is not mere natural talent accompanied by comparatively good results; rather, the keys to success are effort, resiliency, and hard work. In the words of Arthur Ashe, “Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome.” 

For this reason, we are all called to succeed in life. Regardless of intelligence, ability, or socioeconomic stratum, all are called to make the very most of the gifts that have been afforded to them by God.

It is my sincere hope that all of the students here at Chaminade will look back on their high school years without regret, and with the knowledge that they fulfilled their academic and spiritual duties to the very best of their abilities.