Success Defined

What does it mean to be a success?  According to, the definition of success is:

  1. The achievement of one's aim or goal.

  2. (business) financial profitability

  3. One who, or that which, achieves assumed goals

No surprises there. For me, the following definition by Booker T. Washington is an excellent definition of success and it aligns with my philosophy.


Success is to be measured

not so much by the position

that one has reached in life

as by the obstacles

which he has overcome

while trying to succeed

The definition of success will be as unique for each person as their individual fingerprint.  Everyone has their own goals and objectives. Every person is on a personal journey with a different start and end point. And, every person has a unique perspective of what's important.

My definition of success has changed over time. When I was younger, success was predicated on achieving material things. A cool car, a big house, a job title, and good income were how I defined success. As I've gotten older, my definition of success has changed as I've learned and experienced new things and as my circumstances have changed.

Now, instead of a "cool" car, I have a car that's fun to drive and also economical. My wife and I are planning to move from a house that's too big to a house that's the right size. I've replaced my focus on job title and money with a focus on doing things I find fulfilling that also improve the world we all live in.

It's interesting for me to notice that, as my values have changed, so has my definition of success. I've moved from materialistic goals to goals that enrich my life and give me a sense of purpose. I've moved from goals that reflect my status to goals that provide flexibility and ease of living.

One of my favorite poems is "Success" by Ralph Waldo Emerson.


To laugh often and much

to win the respect of intelligent people

and the affection of children;

to earn the appreciation of honest critics

and endure the betrayal of false friends;

to appreciate beauty;

to find the best in others;

to leave the world a bit better,

whether by a healthy child,

a garden patch

or a redeemed social condition;

to know even one life has breathed easier

because you have lived.

This is to have succeeded.

Take some time to reflect on your definition of success. What was it years ago? What is it now? Is it your own definition of success or someone else's? What smaller goals blaze the trail of your journey to success? Are you moving in the right direction?

Gary Bamberger