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Defining success: Here's what it's not

Fri, 11/09/2012 - 4:26pm | by Helen Hoart

Success means different things to different folks.  That’s obvious.  But I can tell you one thing that success isn’t.  It isn’t about being all happy all the time. In a recent online poll, 41.2% of respondents selected:

     True Success is simply being happy with everything that you do and what happens to you.

This makes me really uncomfortable. If success is simply being happy with everything you do and what happens to you, then no one is ever going to be successful. That’s an impossible goal and, in my book, a very unfulfilling one.   Of course, happiness may be a byproduct of success, but it’s not the central element.

As I look at all that’s been written about being successful, I know “success” is much more.  It’s about taking risks, giving to others, being honest, and making a commitment.

The second highest response on the poll was:

                True success is different for each of us and cannot be defined

That’s getting closer to the truth.  But I disagree that it can’t be defined.  I believe it’s important for each of us to define what we think success is.  It is certainly not the same thing for everyone and each of us must define what success means to us individually.   If we don’t we won’t have a goal and won’t be able to chart our course. 

The other thing I’ve come to realize is that my definition of success has changed over time. Being president of company and having a family was at the top of my list when I was younger.   When I achieved those things, I realized they were goals but did not necessarily make me “successful.”  What gives me a sense of success these days is having a positive impact on the lives around me.  That positive impact can come through work, from family or by volunteer efforts.  It makes me think of the old cliché:  Success is a journey not a destination.  

Here’s to your success,


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