When you are asked what is success, what is your answer? Do you have a sure and ready answer or does the question compel you to pause and think? Most people have a ready, but not necessarily sure, answer to this question.
The most popular answer is either to be wealthy or to be happy. If this is also your answer, have you thought about how much wealth you need to have to be able to say you’re successful, or how do you know when you have succeeded in achieving happiness?
Wealth constitutes what you have when someone takes all your money away.— Jordan Peterson
If you pause and think about this question, then you might be considering what exactly being successful means. As a way to answer the question, let’s first try to define what it is not.
What Success Isn’t
Most people would consider failure as the opposite of success. But if you review the lives of many individuals we consider “successful”, most of them had their turning point to success after a series of failures, or right after a major failure or a combination of these events. Take a look at these people:
Walt Disney – fired from the Kansas City Star because he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” Formed his first animation company but had to dissolve it because he could not pay his rent. Went on to be nominated for 59 Academy Awards for his work.
Oprah Winfrey – born into poverty, was pregnant at 14, fired from her first TV job because she was “unfit for television.” Became the host to one of the longest-running talks shows on TV and now has her own media empire.
Bill Gates – his first company with two other partners failed but this didn’t stop him from trying again. He founded Microsoft, one of the worlds biggest companies and he is now one of the wealthiest men in the world.
JK Rowling – found herself divorced, on welfare and with a child to support by the time she finished her first book. Her book was rejected by all 12 major publishers until a year later when Bloomsbury accepted it and gave her a small advance fee. Her series of books is still enjoying huge success.
Failure is Part of Success
Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.— Winton S. Churchill
From these few examples, there are some noticeable patterns for achieving success:
- Failure is just a stepping stone to success.
- Focusing on a major goal and not giving up is important.
- Success is not concentrated in just one career path or industry.
- Wealth is a consequence of achieving success.
An important thing to take note of is that each of them had different major goals in life based on their personal talents or interest or what we may call as their passion. They set out to do something which they already love to do. This fueled them to keep on working even when facing setbacks.
Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.— Winston S. Churchill
Although their goals were personal to them, it also had a huge impact on a large number of people. Their actions in pursuit of their goals fulfilled a need, addressed a lack that people were trying to find a solution for. This attracted people to support them and their activities which boosted their momentum towards their goals.
Success isn’t just about what you accomplish in your life; it’s about what you inspire others to do.— Unknown
They did not set out specifically to become wealthy but it was a by-product of achieving their goals and thus, being successful in their particular field.
Stop chasing the money and start chasing the passion.— Tony Hsieh
What Success Is
Using the observations we have from the examples we reviewed previously, we can define success roughly as follows:
Success is the state of an individual who has achieved a major life goal that they pursued diligently by overcoming failures, which also benefits a large number of people.
Obviously, success is something that you define personally, so you can reword this definition the way you think is more appropriate to you. The more important thing is that you understand the whole concept.
Success seems to be connected with action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don’t quit.— Conrad Hilton
Arriving at a state or position in life where you can call yourself successful means that you have achieved a “major life goal”. “Major” is emphasized here, because in order to reach this goal, you have to succeed in the smaller goals first.
Think of it as succeeding in your daily health habits, like eating the right food, which leads to your success in your major health goal of losing weight and achieving a slimmer body.
How To Be Successful
From these patterns, we can further say that the method for success is as follows:
- You define your major goal in life.
- Your goals should benefit other people.
- You work diligently to pursue your goal.
- You don’t give up when you fail.
Now that you have a blueprint for success; it’s time to take your first step to determining your own definition of success.
Start Your Journey to Success
One of the first things you can do to start your journey to success is to define what you mean by success. There are many ways to go about this so choose the one that works for you. Here are some guide questions you can ask yourself to get started:
- If money and time we’re not an issue, what do I want to do?
- What areas of my life do I want to fix or make better and why?
- What are the things that I would like to achieve for myself?
- What do I want my life to be 3 years from now? 5 years from now?
Take some time to think about your answers to these questions and write them down. An important tip while doing these exercises, and even while you’re pursuing your goals, is to maintain a happy demeanor.
Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.— Albert Schweitzer
This means that you “choose to be happy” every day and not wait to succeed to become happy. By deciding to be happy every day, you will be able to bounce back from failures better and you will be more open to learning from new things from other people and experiences.
We hope this helps you gain clarity on what success means to you and also help you take your first steps to your journey. Cheers to your success!