Success is a concept that each person within society is constantly trying to achieve. It is the hopes and dreams of every parent for their children to be successful and happy. It is woven into our character, and helps society define our worth, but what is success? More importantly, how do we obtain success?
The most common definition of success as defined by the internet and various dictionaries are the following: the accomplishment of an aim or purpose; the attainment of popularity or prosperity; and a person or thing that achieves desired aims or attains prosperity.
While I do not disagree that success is strongly linked to obtaining accomplishments. The definition that is provided by so many dictionaries directly link success with monetary accomplishments, name recognition, power, and status within society. Although most of society may consider those definitions the true definition of success, personally these definitions seem incomplete or not truly encompassing success as a whole.
This lead me to research what is success defined by individuals that society consider successful. How do “successful” people define the concept of success?
Arianna Huffington, the founder of the Huffington Post, stated in her book entitled Thrive that society “tends to think of success along two metrics — money and power — we need to add a third”. She states that the third is more like a multi-branch pillar that contains “well-being, wisdom, wonder, and giving”. Success includes this last multi-branch pillar because to be successful, one truly needs to thrive and attend to their psychological well being as well as the role society creates for them.
According to the inspiring writer Maya Angelou, “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.” She explains that success is sought through obtaining happiness within the decisions and paths that you have taken as an individual, and the enjoyment we find in it.
Spiritual teacher Deepak Chopra believes that success is a matter of constant growth. He states in his book, “success in life could be defined as the continued expansion of happiness and the progressive realization of worthy goals.”
Unlike the three previous success stories that focus on the psychological well being of an individual, many others focus on the drive or path to success. Winston Churchill stated “success is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.” It is being relentless in your future and never giving up on your end goal.
Like Winston Churchill, Thomas Edison focused on the work to obtain success rather than what defines a successful person. He’s definition “success is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration.” He focused on constantly putting in the effort to reap the benefit.
I saved my personal favorite definition of success for last. According to legendary basketball coach John Wooden, success comes from competition within ones self rather than competition with others. Wooden stated “success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming”. His idea of success comes from self fulfillment and goals of success that is set by the individual.
The common theme that is universal in each of these successful individuals definition is success comes from self awareness. Regardless if it is self fulfillment, hard work, continual self growth, relentless efforts, self love, or altruistic service to others; the key to success comes from within. It is one thing to be successful to others, but the bigger obstacle is to truly gain success within the strict defines that we place upon ourselves.
I have not yet became the successful person that I would love to become, but I am proud of my progress and my relentless efforts to gaining success. Remember you are only more successful than the person you were yesterday.
Success lies within the heart, soul, and mind of the beholder.