How many of us really understand what success actually means? The truth is that most people have absolutely no clue about this and the majority of those who have created a definition are likely to be wrong. How do I know this? Because I have struggled with this question myself for many years and it is without question one of the most vexing questions of our lifetime.
The following scenario may be familiar to you:
Somebody: “Can you please tell me what is success?”
You: “Satisfied with life”
Somebody: “How do you feel satisfied with life?”
You: “Having happiness”
Somebody: “What is happiness to you?”
You: “Having a lot of money and my own house!”
Can you see how this is a bit like a blind mouse trying to escape from a complex maze. No wonder so many people spend their lives feeling unfulfilled because they have never quite figured out what fulfillment means. We have a sort of fuzzy idea about the meaning of success and fulfillment and generally go about life as if this vague description will do. Secretly, however, we have this nagging feeling that something is amiss. Success has to be something else.
One thing is for sure. Success can’t be exactly the same for everyone. What success means to me and what it might mean to you can be and will be very different. But is there a common core, a necessary set of ingredients, that will inevitably exist in everyone’s case? The common dictionary version of success is “the attainment of wealth, favor or eminence“. Zig Ziglar – a well-known success expert says “success is comprised of many things“. Zig has provided a clue but not the full answer.
So what are these many things? These are the many outcomes and metrics that people aspire to achieve. These are usually related to:
1- Financial – An amount of money by a certain time or a possession (land, house, car)
3- Social – A relationship (a first date, getting married, being part of a community)
4- Recognition – Some significance (becoming well-known or famous or recognized)
5- Physical – A physical state (energetic, physically fit)
6- Emotional – A mental or emotional or spiritual state
When asked if they were successful, extremely wealthy business people have been known to have said no. Top athletes in peak physical condition have said no they haven’t found success as yet. In fact, none of the above 6 achievements can translate to a sense of success on their own.
The true definition of success is not a single metric; it is a combination of metrics. The combination can be different for everyone but the ingredients remain the same. The famous author and motivational coach Anthony Robbins has written in his books that success is a combination of financial, physical and emotional well-being.
Mother Theresa never had money but she had social status, worldwide recognition and an unmatched spirituality. Successful people have become so not just through acquisition and accumulation but also through giving and sharing what they possess: wealth, knowledge, skills, expertise, kindness, time.