What is Success?
Success is different things to different people. There is no one specific outcome that defines success. For some it is fame and fortune, and for others it might be position or status, a happy relationship, a specific academic qualification, raising “good” children, running an orphanage, or rescuing animals in distress.
Understand that success in a person’s professional life does not tell us how well they do in their personal life. A successful professional life does not necessarily equate to a successful personal life. There are many successful professionals who lead highly dysfunctional private lives e.g. a celebrity might value fame and fortune above a happy and harmonious family life. Is this good or bad? That depends on which is more important to you.
Regardless, here is a quote worth contemplating:
As you climb the ladder of success, be sure it’s leaning against the right building. ~Quoted in P.S. I Love You, compiled by H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
The bottom line is that you determine what success is for you, and then you set your heart and mind on achieving it. To be successful is to have succeeded in your endeavour i.e. reached a favourable outcome of something you attempted. The basic foundation to attaining success is determining your purpose and values and setting goals that are congruent with those purpose and values. Your values define what is most important to you and gives your life purpose and direction. You achieve your life purpose by living your life in accordance with your values. Purpose calls forth your passion and is the driving force in all accomplishments of greatness. Purpose always seems to include making a contribution to others.
Earl Nightingale defined success as the “progressive realization of a worthy goal”.
Your Goals may be elaborate or simple. Elaborate goals are often the progressive realization of many simple goals.
The key phrases in Earl Nightingale’s definition are:
Let’s look at what a ‘worthy goal’ is first.
To determine a worthy goal, we need to ask the question: “Why?” That is, why is this goal important to you? What do you value most? Specifically, ask:
What does your heart long for?
- What is it that deep down in your heart, more than anything else, you want to be, do or have in life?
- Where do you want to go with your career?
- What status or position do you want to attain?
- What material resources do you wish to have?
- What do your want with your relationships?
- What do you want for society?
- What do you want for the world?
The answers to these questions are the standard against which you measure your progress toward achieving your success.
Whatever it is that you want, it must be personal; it is something that you really, really want for yourself, not for anybody else. So, serving the disadvantaged by establishing a soup kitchen is something that will make you feel good and give you a sense of achievement. In like manner, making significant sacrifices to help your child qualify as a doctor or become an Olympic champion is an outcome that you want because it will make you feel good (even proud) albeit your child will take the honours. Ultimately, what you want comes down to a feeling… a feeling that will “turn you on” and motivate you to take effective action the moment you get up in the morning. It is said that the hand will not reach for what the heart does not long for.
What is it that will have such an effect on you?
It is easy to tell how badly you want to achieve something by observing your actions each day. If you really want it badly, it will dominate your thoughts and actions.
The second key phrase, ‘progressive realization’, suggests making steady progress by following a step-by-step, practical approach, toward the achievement of your goal.
If you are satisfied with your progress toward your highest value wants in life, then you are being a success. Keep on this path and maintain the momentum, and you will eventually achieve your desired outcome. This does not mean that you should not make course corrections, or even change course completely, if circumstances dictate.
As you work towards your goals, monitor your efforts and the results they produce. Check what’s working and what’s not. You‘ll receive feedback and signals telling you when course corrections are necessary. If things aren’t going according to plan, make adjustments as circumstances dictate. As Ken Blanchard says, “Feedback is the breakfast of champions” — feedback lets you know what you should and shouldn’t be doing.
Many people don’t understand the subtleties of the laws that govern success. Some success factors are so inconspicuous that they are overlooked entirely. Truth be told, success is attainable by ANYONE, as is so eloquently revealed in The Inexplicable Laws of Success.