What is success?

What is success? Is success something tangible, something that we can own physically? Or is it less tangible…?

Is it driving an Aston Martin around like a boss?

Like a boss.

Surely driving around on the set of Skyfall with one of the original Aston Martin’s that Sean Connery drove around with in the 1960s has to denote some level of success in one’s career. Heck if I had Bumblebee from the Transformers I’d imagine I would be pretty successful at that point.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Ag6lFQrexU]


But what would happen if I happened to lose that particular car in an accident? Or if I wanted to drive around a different car? Driving around an Aston Martin would surely make me feel important, but the MPG on that thing must be horrendous in city traffic. It’s not practical, so I’d be quite unhappy to be stuck with just that car. So I’ll get another car to drive, and another to have in my garage to look at in amazement at my success… By my own measurement, if I own something, I’m going to use it, not look at it.

If it isn’t a car that determines my success, then what?

How about careers? Yes, someone’s success could be measured through one’s vocation in life.

People have jobs that they love – in regards to having a career choice, I hear the one adjective passionate all the time. If I’m passionate about my career, everything else will fall into place. Success is predetermined at this point.

“Show Up” is and always will be the foundational success principle and “Thank you” will never be surpassed as the right thing to say in so many of life’s situations.

~Dan John

Have I made it yet…?

This question has been running through my mind for the past few years.

I see friends, colleagues, and co-workers moving on to higher education, accruing more debt, to get more skills for an even more saturated work force to make themselves stand out. Some have taken this route, I feel, to “wait out the recession” until more jobs open up. I don’t think the President or government could have anticipated such a fallout in regards to the student loan debt this country faces, which is a whole other can of worms that I’ll refrain from getting into.

I also see friends getting promoted at jobs that they “stuck through with” in order to show more loyalty to the company, just to get a few more bucks, even at a cost of their temporary happiness. They’ve continually “showed up” – are they successful?

Or how about money? There was recently a Powerball of $500million, and there were two matching tickets. Perhaps winning millions would make me happy… I opted not to play, although a smooth half billion would certainly go over well for my student loans now. No, there might be other repercussions with receiving money that I didn’t earn on my own.

…and I’m always asking myself, “Am I as successful as everyone else…?”

Depending on your own situation, $50,000 might sound like a lot. But this is actually a steep discount from what studies previously cited as the golden number: $75,000. A 2010 study from Princeton University‘s Woodrow Wilson School found that, up to $75,000, each boost in income increased participants’ happiness. But after that, bringing home more income ceased to matter in their overall life satisfaction.

~Forbes: The Salary That Will Make You Happy…

So $50,000 as a measure of success? Seems easy enough. I’m sure a lot of people are getting that now-a-days, even with an entry level full-time position out of college.

Inherently, this question I’m asking myself is flawed, simply because in order to be successful, I must have a goal to achieve. If my “goal” is to have a better job than someone else, it could be argued that it would be impossible to calculate qualitatively, because I’m using someone else’s metric instead of my own as the basis of my success. Once I see someone else have a better car than me, or making more money than me, my immediate response in my head is “What am I not doing correctly to get to that level of success?”

In reality, the question I should be asking myself is… am I happy?

Rather than using material wealth as a metric for success, perhaps my success should be dependent on how happy I am in a given situation.

So when do I know that I’ve made it?

Using my personal moral compass:

-Surround myself in a likeminded community.
-Performing an activity that will continually allow myself to “flow”.
-Have a filter in which I can teach and pass down the things I’ve learned either from experience or from a book.

Simple enough. Although it doesn’t sound as cool as money, cars, and women, hopefully I won’t have a necessity to modify these guidelines in the future in order to achieve my own success.

Perhaps, to myself, success is not a single definable goal with one clear result. Success, then, comes as a result of enjoying the process of one’s actions. If I follow the guidelines above, and accept that success is a continual “flow”, perhaps then my own success becomes more manageable and attainable.


What do you define as being successful? Share your thoughts below…!


2 thoughts on “What is success?

  1. Success, is the realization that you have surpassed your life goals in all facets, both extrinsic and intrinsic. The extrinsic is your fame and wealth; how you look on paper to others. The intrinsic is the personal satisfaction no one else can relate to, it cannot be measured in material but rather contentness

    The truth is it doesn’t matter what anyone says the definition is because the pure definition of success can only be seen in the eye of the beholder. It is the reason why some settle working on a farm humbled, some settle creating a billion dollar company and retire, and some work till the day they die. Because no matter how much wealth they accumulate or blondes the banged they still could do better ( see Hugh Hefner)

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