How do you define success, for yourself as well as others?

Success is exciting and feels powerful – operating with high standards can be exhilarating. Reaping the rewards of success in business opens opportunities that money and time can afford. Oftentimes, we define success as our status relative to others. However you define it, success is like an aphrodisiac for the mind.

What does success mean to you?

In my experience, many people define success too narrowly. They forget about strengths they have that are not being used to reach their goal of “being successful”. They forget about being successful in their relationships or marriage, and as being a successful parent. Even in their business, many people define success narrowly, without being grounded in their core values.

An article at, titled How 9 Incredibly Successful People Define Success, helps to bring this into focus. By anyone’s standards these people are indeed successful, yet their definitions of success vary widely. Of course, much of this can be attributed to the turbulent times in which these people lived, such as Winston Churchill, while others may base their definitions of success on simple life experience or education.

What is most striking among these varied definitions is, of course, how individualistic they are. For example:

  • Winston Churchill defined success as “going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm,” a rather grim but relentless approach to being successful, no doubt influenced by the two World Wars during which he lived.

  • Arianna Huffington lists “well-being, wisdom, wonder, and giving,” as her “four pillars” of success.

  • John Wooden, legendary college basketball coach and one of my personal heroes said, “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.”

  • Tony Hsieh, Zappos CEO once said, “Your personal core values define who you are, and a company’s core values ultimately define the company’s character and brand,” defining success as living and working in accordance with personal values.

Of course, for me, the definition of success encompasses all of these things and more (although I am a little biased toward Tony Hsieh’s). To live and work according to your values necessarily implies that you HAVE them; while “enjoying your work” (Maya Angelou), “being engaged” (Richard Branson), or experiencing “constant growth” (Deepak Chopra) all require introspection, self-recognition, and the determination to make yourself a better person over time.

These are NOT small things and should, at all times, be taken seriously if you want to “Be successful”, and maybe success is not a goal or a result of work and accomplishment, as much as it is a way of being.