What is Success?

What exactly is success? How do you go about defining success? Has your understanding of success changed over time?

The very word itself is a motivator that is most certainly positive in nature. It challenges us to link our own definitions with our experiences in chasing it down. Personally, success is not a final destination at which I have arrived. Rather, it has been a continuous series of small daily choices that have led me to where I am today. It is important to realize and understand that I still have many choices to come as I continue along my journey.

How Do You Define Success?

It is vital to understand that the only person who can define success is you. I am unable, nor willing, to even attempt to conquer this task. Everyone has a unique definition and understanding of what it means to be successful. That being said, there simply cannot be a single definition that is suitable for everyone.

Gerd Altmann

It is critical that you know exactly how to define success in your own life. Furthermore, it is vital that you make yourself aware of how you understand accomplishment, success, and prosperity in your personal and professional realms. Some define success via material possessions (eg fancy cars and expansive mansions), whereas others base their understanding of success in a life full of joy and happiness. This leads one to question whether, or not, they truly understand what it means to live a successful life.

The Genuine Meaning of Success

One of the most important, if not the most important, steps in achieving success in life is to understand the meaning of success on a personal level. The true, most genuine, meaning extends far beyond the common – textbook – definitions, such as financial and material wealth. Hopefully, this doesn’t come as a surprise, but this materialistic understanding is both crude and simplistic in so many ways.

Personally, I am of the school of thought that your overall success is dependent on the number of people who are able to live a better and more meaningful life due to your contributions. This is the most viable and effective definition of what it means to be successful in my book – not the trophies and wealth that many aim to accumulate over the course of their lives. The media and society, in general, lead us to believe that living a successful life means that one must be absurdly wealthy and accumulate tangible goods. However, this is a very narrow understanding of what it means to be successful. A genuinely successful life means that one lives a happy life and make the world a better place for everyone.


While it is important to understand what it means to be successful, it is equally important to understand what it means to fail. The very opposite of success is to fail when aiming to achieve specific objectives. Furthermore, it is also safe to argue that many wealthy and supposedly successful individuals fail in their lives. Take a moment and consider the expansive list of famous individuals and their slew of scandals, addictions, and suicides. The vast majority of these so-called successful people were extraordinary in their own sense, yet a lot of them were extremely unhappy with their lives…they failed to either see or understand the true meaning of success.

success via failure
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It is also essential to understand that wealth simply cannot be defined by one’s financial riches. Genuine wealth ought to consist of the values in one’s life that make one a happy person. Some of these values include, but are not limited to, friendship, relationships, and one’s family.

Separating Accomplishments from Success

Accomplishment is often associated with success and there is certainly a strong relationship between the two. However, they are anything but synonyms. Accomplishments refer to the results we crave when we attempt to achieve certain, specific, goals. In short, accomplishments are the results that we plan, or expect, to occur. Success, on the other hand, is the positive consequence, or outcome, of an achieved accomplishment.

3 Ways to Achieve Success

As I’ve already stated, your individual definition and understanding of success will vary from what I’m about to discuss. However, I am confident that we will share the essence of what is to follow.

Build a Growth Mindset

According to Carol Dweck, there are two basic mindsets that impact how individuals think about themselves and their abilities: the fixed mindset and the growth mindset.

Individuals who embody a fixed mindset believe that traits such as intelligence are static and unchangeable. Those with a fixed mindset believe that success is not a result of hard work. Rather, it is an endpoint of innate talents. Since they believe that talents are something are either born with or without, they typically give up sooner in the face of adversity. Those with fixed mindsets also tend to quit when things do not come easily since they believe that they lack the innate skill needed to excel.

Growth Mindset
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On the other hand, there are those who embody a growth mindset. This portion of the population feels that they can change, grow and learn via effort. These individuals believe who believe that they are capable of growth are more likely to achieve success. When things don’t go their way, they seek out ways to improve their skills and keep working towards their goals.

Enhance Your Emotional Intelligence

General intelligence has long been believed to be a major factor contributing to success in various areas of life. However, some experts suggest that emotional intelligence may very well matter more. Emotional intelligence has to do with one’s ability to understand, utilize, and reason with one’s emotions. Individuals who are emotionally intelligent are capable of understanding not only their personal emotions but the emotions of others as well.

Develop Mental Toughness (aka Grit)

Mental toughness refers to the sense of resilience that certain individuals have to carry on and continue trying in the face of adversity. People who possess this trait see challenges as opportunities. They also carry the mindset that they have control over their own destiny, are confident in their ability to succeed, and are dedicated to completing everything that they start.

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