The Real Meaning of Success

And What to do About It

I believe two things we want most in life are self-worth and success. It’s the most written about, talked about, debated, and sought after principle in history. From the writings of Solomon in ancient Israel to all the Greek philosophers, to today what is a multi – billion dollar industry, we all want to know, what’s the meaning of success?

Photo Credit :© Can Stock Photo / jengit

One thing I’ve yet to hear anyone say with truthfulness is, “I just don’t think I ever want to do anything!” I’ve never met someone who at some level didn’t want to succeed at something, no matter how limited their worldview.

We have an innate desire for progress.

Success means many things to different people. Our hang up, I believe, is defining what being successful is.

Yes, most people, including myself, tend to discuss success in the context of being financially well off. While that is one of the components of a successful life, it’s not all.

Our experiences, beliefs, what level of achievement or lack there of we’ve experienced…. for most of us, are the factors that influence our definitions for interpretation.

Success, Earl Nightingale said in his deep, soul piercing voice, is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal.” To that end, he recorded “The Strangest Secret” in 1956.

Success is whatever we want it to be, as long as we are moving toward it.

Here is my core framework for being successful, whatever that is to YOU, with a few individuals well versed in the matter:


“As a man (or woman) thinks in his heart, so is he.” These words in Proverbs 23:7 have influenced 90% of the self-help movement since that time. We become what we think about. To ascertain the level of success we know and strive for, we have to believe that it’s possible. We have to condition our mind and go for it.

Serving the poor in the streets of Calcutta, Mother Theresa tells us that “God doesn’t require you to succeed, He only requires that you try.” Having a posh Hollywood mansion wasn’t in Her framework for success, but in what she chose to do, she realized she must give her all and believed it.

Add Value

No one excels without assisting other people along the way. Sports stars and musicians provide entertainment and enjoyment to those seeking relaxation. Teachers, pastors, and coaches encourage and instruct us in better ways to live. Business people provide services to make our lives more convenient, or solve a problem at the time we need it.

I’m a fan of the teachers of yesteryear when it comes to success and philosophy.

There are many good books on the market but you will find most of the personalities today got the bulk of their material from Napoleon Hill. Hill, in the early 1900’s embarked on a quest to provide a written instruction manual for success. To that end, he spent many years with the Rockefeller’s, Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford & others to provide us the principles in the book, Think and Grow Rich.

If you were in the early 1900s riding with him he might say, “Over -deliver in whatever you do. The man who does more than he is paid for will soon be paid for more than he does.

Push Past Opposition

Imagine you’re in a cigar smoke-filled room in Parliament with Winston Churchill, circa 1940. He would tell you to always push & never give up.

“Success is not final & failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts. – Success consists of going to failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill

We’re going to have problems. The main issue is most people’s problem is they think they shouldn’t have any. Problems are what make us grow. Any “real world” success or great life experience I’ve had, most come from a list of challenges I’ve overcome.

Here’s Hill again: “Before success comes to any person’s life, we’re sure to meet much temporary defeat and perhaps, some failure. When defeat overtakes a man, the easiest and the most logical thing to do is quit. That’s exactly what the majority of men do.”

A Written Statement

Either on my person or in my briefcase, I have an 8×12 sheet of paper that has four groups of statements:

  • My Values
  • Big Life Goals
  • Daily “Musts”
  • Fun Things I’d like to Have

This list contains 26 specific statements that most mornings, I read aloud with my first cup of coffee. I have identified what success is in my career, faith, family, growth, and health. Each day, I make a focused effort to follow what’s on that list.

Your Success

There have been many studies showing that repetition of the mind is powerful to behavior and life change. Take out your favorite notebook, or your iPhone Notes App, and write what being a success is to you.

Know these (3) things precisely:

  1. What do you want to BE, DO, & HAVE?
  2. What actions do you need to do on a daily basis to achieve this?
  3. Tell yourself you are a success and no matter what, never let anyone distract you.

Former British Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli, said this: “Everything comes if a man will only wait … a human being with a settled purpose must accomplish it, and nothing can resist a will that will stake even existence for its fulfillment.”

If being a great mom to your kids is your goal, and you’re being that, you are a success.

Maybe you’re a musician and have written a song or piece of music; you are a success.

If you are beginning a new career, with aspirations of rising to the top and JUST landed that first job, you are on your path and already succeeding.

Live intentionally.

Be a success.

Question: What does success mean to you?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

2 thoughts on “The Real Meaning of Success

  1. Nice explanation and great ideas of how to help people start to focus. As you and I know, most people don’t think to plan out their lives or give themselves goals or motivstion. I think it’s very important for people to define what is success in their own lives from any starting point. Yes, we strive everyday to run towards the goal of a higher calling, but along the way, in everything we should learn to live with contentment. This statement may sound contradictory in it’s nature but I have found that the different seasons of life bring many different challenges and benefits. In each we should learn to be content with that change in our current situation while still striving towards our goal. I used the word content, not complacent. If we do not learn to be content along our journey to success, it can lead to an unhappy or unfulfilled feeling life. I have been there at that low point. I’m happy where I am now working towards my next goal and I know that goal will be realized by my daily activities. Consistent and steady. One day at a time. Enjoying the journey.

    • Great points Kelly. I think maintaining the place of being ambitious while remaining content is key to our happiness so as to enjoy the present moment and not always look to future ones…something I always have to work on.

Comments are closed.