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Defining Success

When you think of the word success, do images of fast cars, big houses, and financial freedom comes to mind? These pictures of success are hammered into your brain every day. If that’s the case then, why haven’t you achieved success? It’s not due to a lack of availability of resources and education. There’s never been a time in the history of man where the raw materials and knowledge you need have been so accessible. I believe the problem is the definition of success. The question that needs to be answered is what the definition of success is?

If the definition of success is the fancy automobiles, mansions, and bank accounts, why do you feel like you’re floundering and lost? It’s because you’ve let others determine what the definition of success means to you; thinking the word success can only mean one thing. You feel frustrated, beat down, and lost when it comes to achieving success is because you haven’t defined it. That’s right; success means something different to everyone. Seeing success in this light doesn’t make you weird; it makes you unique. It helps you identify why God put you on this earth. What makes you feel fulfilled will fill a void in the fabric of life and make the world a better place.

The very best definition of success I’ve ever heard was in Earl Nightingale’s 1953 recording The Strangest Secret, where he states, “Success is the progressive realization of a worthy goal or ideal.” Helping to fund a ministry is a worthy ideal. Being a stay at home mom is a worthy ideal. Being the best parent or grandparent you can be is a worthy ideal. So now you’re thinking, “Ok Rick, I see what you mean but how do I figure out what my worthy ideal is?” You determine what your worthy ideal is in four steps.

  1. Identify. You live your life based on a set of values you’ve accumulated over time based on your education, morals, parenting, religion, etc. If you’re like most, though, you don’t consciously know what these values are. Don’t let the word values scare you; they’re just the rules you live your life by. It’s time to identify what your rules are because if your definition of success goes against your rules, you’ll never achieve the level of success you think you want.
  2. Confront. Your life is also governed by a series of beliefs that you’ve accumulated over time that you hold to be truths. The problem with these “truths” is they’re nothing more than the perspective of your experiences or the opinions of others. Many times your beliefs are what are holding you back. If your definition of success doesn’t align with what you believe is possible, you’ll never see success. Confronting your beliefs gives you the opportunity to replace them with ones that will better serve you.
  3. Know. You live life flitting from one issue to the other and before you know it, ten years have passed. To move towards your worthy goal, you need to take the time to know what’s important to you. You need to know the outcomes you want to achieve in your life to feel fulfilled. Think of the different areas of your life like family, community, work, spiritual, play, etc. and decide how you want to be remembered some day in each of those areas. You begin with the end in mind and then work backward to come up with a plan for your life.
  4. Act. As in anything else, you need to take action. Not grand gestures but consistent actions you do daily that move you towards your desired outcomes. This is when your sense of satisfaction and fulfillment kick in. This is where you love life and your energy and enthusiasm radiate from you. This is where you make a difference.

In conclusion, success isn’t about the definition of the word; it’s about your definition of the word. As you go through life, clear on where you want to go and loving what you do, you’ll show the world just how AMAZING life can be!

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