What Does Success Mean to You?

Some people would like a throne.
Some people would like a throne. | Source

My Idea of Success

First, I'll describe some usual types of success I've seen in America, then some types of success I wish would go away, followed by my own ideas for success.

In America, success is often seen as winning some type of competition in a sporting event, a contest, a line of work - achieving the top of the ladder in a particular field of employment, winning the Lottery, retiring from work with enough money to travel the world, etc.

Unfortunately, in a society seemingly rife with violence, verbal and physical abuse, and other mental health issues, success for some individuals also means hurting someone else. The perpetrator sees this harm as "winning" in some sort of game or battle that is sometimes waged only in his or her own head.


Some Examples Of Unhealthy Success

One-Upsmanship - constantly outdoing ("one upping") someone else at school, at work, at home, anywhere. This used to be called "Keeping up with the Joneses" and meant having as nice as or better than, the neighbor's lawn, trees, dishes, aluminum siding, etc. A little of this can be fun, but now it's become much more vindictive and can lead to people shooting one another in order to take their Starter jackets and Nike shoes.

Unhealthy Competition: Stop-Light Chicken - making sure you rev your engine and streak out ahead of everyone else at a traffic light when it turns green. Some drivers simply run you off the road. In grocery stores, this takes the form of people smashing into you with their loaded grocery carts in order to get ahead of you in the checkout line.

Discrimination - since discrimination stems from fear and lack of knowledge, it makes the perpetrator feel safe and "better" that the target group of the discrimination. It is success to the person exercising it, but it is truly unhealthy. This includes name calling toward, and laughing at, minority groups, or anyone that is "different."

Food Games - using credit cards to purchase and flaunt expensive foods to your roommates in order to make them feel poor. It doesn't matter if you have to declare bankruptcy - you made them feel bad and that's a win.

Control - provoking someone else into a reaction of some kind in order to prove you have power over them.

Bullying - bullies feel success and power when they harm others in this way. Bullying needs to be stopped at all levels, from pre-school to retirement home. The website Bully B'Ware is Canada is excellent for its work toward this elimination of bullyism.

Manipulation - saving all of your own money, telling friends you have no money, and then soliciting and accepting their donations to "pay the rent." On the other hand, manipulation could be pretending you don't know how to do something in order to get someone else to do it.

Isolation - controlling a significant other in such a way that he or she is not permitted to see family, friends, or even the mailman.

Children - among some urban areas, racing your friends to see how many children you can have, whether you support them or not.

"I can change him (her)" - this is staying with an abusive or addictive partner in the belief that your relationship or your love will change that person for the better. Staying no matter what can be an erosion of your mind and spirit.

Games of Intimacy - this could be having a certain number of partners, teasing a certain target number of people without engaging with any of them (as a frat game), or something similar. I knew a woman that joined several dating clubs where the fees were pretty high, just so that she could turn down dates with men - she even kept track of them in a log book. She thought that was a success, until one man turned her down for a date! She was crushed and became very depressed.

"The American Dream" - a business of one's own or a good job, a house, two cars and a family. This is great if some good planning is put forth first. While the Dream may be applicable in the 21st century, many more people are single and others do not want a house, but the upside is that we can create our own dreams. The thing to avoid is mortgage debt and credit card/other debt that is so high that it will destroy the Dream.

FaceBook and MySpace - the race to see how many "friends" you can gather. For many, these are not real friends.

There are many other examples of things that some people consider successes that are really twisted and bizarre events. I hope you don't experience many of them.

"I have another friend!"
"I have another friend!" | Source

Ideas About Success

I felt most successful when I was able to help two of my martial arts students discard their wheelchairs permanently.

Another time I felt success was in helping a young student avoid what would today be $100,000+ worth of leg surgery with martial arts instruction and additional stretching.

Another of my students experienced a complete reversal of rheumatoid arthritis. Rather than dying in two years, she avoided a wheelchair and death and has led a productive and happy life since that time.

Another overcame his chronic injuries in Viet Nam and in construction work to complete his first black belt in Judo after several years. He never gave up. He volunteers his time in a domestic violence sanctuary to teach women and children self defense.

Several others of my students in martial arts, GED classes, and college prep courses increased school grades from F's to A's and B's and went on to graduate from college. These are nurses, teachers, doctors, real estate owners, artists, architects, and solders in the war with Iraq. Two of these students married and worked on a Navajo reservation, providing much-needed healthcare to the Native Americans there.

For me, success is seeing people overturn negative prognoses they have received in life. and not only in healthcare. It is also seeing people overcome the negative talk they may receive from those around them that want them to fail in order to feel better about themselves.

Success is helping people avoid listening to lies that will keep them discouraged and underachieving, and doing this helps America to retain its quality of being a land of opportunity.

Ultimate success would be to see the end of all forms of abuse, an end to waste and an increase of good stewardship around the world; and for me, to live an often-examined life, continue to learn new information, meet new friends and enrich current relationships, and contribute to a better quality of life for us all.

© 2007 Patty Inglish

More by this Author

Experiences and Thoughts 71 comments

IcarusInflight profile image

IcarusInflight 9 years ago from Manchester UK

The word 'SUCCESS' is a much abused term. You mentioned many abuses of this word revolving around possessions, power and toxic relationships.

To my mind SUCCESS centres aound how we deal with each other, treating others decently and respectively, having awareness of one's own abilities and limitations, attempting to do no harm to the world. Poverty or loads of money has nothing to do with.

The word 'SUCCESS' propagated in the media and modern culture is a 21st century illusion.

Some 'SUCCESSFUL' people out there, I would not let them look after my dog (if I had one) :-)

Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 9 years ago from North America Author

Thanks for those comments, IcarusInflight. Success and its definition and purpose is something I think individuals need to think about.

raymondphilippe profile image

raymondphilippe 9 years ago from The Netherlands

Paty, what a great article you have written. You successfully inspired me.

Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 9 years ago from North America Author

Thanks Raymondphillipe, I've joined your fan club.

Icarus, I've joined yours as well!

glassvisage profile image

glassvisage 9 years ago from Northern California

what a great multi-faceted answer. Usually people think in terms of finance when defining success, but this did not even come to mind to me.

Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 9 years ago from North America Author

Thanks for our comments glassvisage. I hope this Hub gives material for much though among readers. I'm glad you stopped by.

mclaire74 profile image

mclaire74 9 years ago from General Santos City

very well written. i hope i could also write the way you do on my future hubs. be my inspiration, as always...

Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 9 years ago from North America Author

Thank you mclaire. I am glad you enjoy my writing and hope it continues to interest you. Thanks very much for reading and commenting!

Misha profile image

Misha 9 years ago from DC Area

I like your successes Patty.

They are succeses of a mature soul IMO. But I bet you used to have successes of the other kind, too - those from the first part of this hub - when you were younger :)

Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 9 years ago from North America Author

Thanks, Misha!

Success is ongoing and I hope it becomes even more meaningful as I progress. My successes have not always been widely recognized, but are successes just the same, and I am still having successes of all types. Never will I be finished with them and age is irrellevant My grandmaster's grandmaster looked 40 years old when he was 96! :)

soyelude profile image

soyelude 9 years ago from Lagos - Nigeria

Thank you Patty for expanding my understanding of the term 'success'. However, I believe its also a thing of the mind...a far cry from financial attainments. Whatever creates a sense of fulfillment can be termed successful.

Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 9 years ago from North America Author

Thank you for the comments, soyelude. I look forward to reading your Hubs as well.

profile image

CreataMind 9 years ago

Paty, you offer some excellent information in this article.  For me,

success is living in the NOW and loving your life today. 

Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 9 years ago from North America Author

That is beautiful, CreataMind. Thanks for that thought.

MIL profile image

MIL 8 years ago from USA,MA.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 8 years ago from North America Author

Thank you vor visiting MIL; Welcome to Hub Pages!

vierge profile image

vierge 8 years ago

Hi Paty,

After reading your hub, I can conclude that your "success" means a satisfaction of being valued for others, encouraging/helping other to get a better life. It's a Super "success" meaning. Great Pat! Two thumbs up.

Anyway, I am wondering that martial art can help to recover injures or disabilities. Is it also a kind of therapy?

Then, for injured/disabled people, portable wheelchair(http://www.wheelchairschoice.com/portable-wheelcha... which is lighter and speedy than the normal one perhaps is only a temporary helper, but the important thing is spirit to get the lives back. 

Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 8 years ago from North America Author

Some types of martial arts and poortions of many of them can be used as therapy. I could not bend over at the waist (muscle injuries) when I began training and was cured in 9 months. One of my own students was remedied of joint and muscle disorders in two years. Anotehr ctudent was cured (comfirmed by her physician) of rheumatoid arthisits completely through my program and a change in diet.

Thanks for the link about the wheelchairs. Some people go through a series of different kinds before they discard the cahir compeltely and osme must always use a chair, but that's OK. These last folks can acomplish much that those who walk can often not.

Thanks again!

Amy 8 years ago

Great hub, a 5* from me. It was really great I got to go thru your hub. It is truly the correct definition of success. People who become "successful" and miss a successful life are those who love things and use people. Another lens that I found very informative was about WheelChairs. Today, <a href="http://www.wheelchairschoice.com/"&gt... are coming in more compact and in lighter form for the people which provide them easier mean to get loaded or unloaded from it.

retirementhelp profile image

retirementhelp 8 years ago

Great Hub Patty!!! We really need to look at what is "true" success in our society. I have been married to the same beautiful woman for 29 years. Through 3 children, 2 grandchildren, 11 dogs, 22 different homes that we have lived in and 2 failed businesses we are still together. I thank God that we are successful!! Thanks for sharing.

Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 8 years ago from North America Author

Amy -- Being in a wheelchair for nearly six months a few years back is something I will never forget, for it's difficulties. Thanks for the link.

retirementhelp - you really ARE successful! Thanks for letting us share the knowledge. It's a lift to the day.


Vlary profile image

Vlary 7 years ago

Good hub , thank you.

my-success-guru profile image

my-success-guru 7 years ago from Upstate NY

Great Hub Patty! It really gets you to reflect on what matters most.

bingskee profile image

bingskee 7 years ago from Quezon City, Philippines

very important examples in life - the misconceptions about success.

mjp 7 years ago

WOW... that is fascinating... do you know of any places in western canada where they teach that type of martial arts???

I agree with you about your definition of success... how rewarding it must be to help so many people lives lives more free of pain and disability.... cudos on you

Manny 7 years ago

My idea of success is waking up with a smile on your face every morning. Also I want to comment on the "Stop Light Chicken," ----- I hate those guys.

profile image

d k nyc 7 years ago

A perfect start 4 my final exam.. I had the help i needed after readding.. keep it going..great job

Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 7 years ago from North America Author

Thanks so much for all the comments.

In Western Canada - Victoria BC - Sandalwood Martial Arts at a church called Cadboro Bay United Church. But call BC Taekwondo Association for more (in the phone book).

d k nyc - I hope you get an A++!

lisadpreston profile image

lisadpreston 7 years ago from Columbus, Ohio

I love this hub. You said it like it is. I do so admire your success!

Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 7 years ago from North America Author

Thank you very much, lisadpreston.

profile image

projectsuccess317 6 years ago

The success is in your hands....If you don't stop aiming for success you cannot get it....Don't surrender easily if you have in doing it...You hare just tested if you have the strength to survive.

ALL4JESUS profile image

ALL4JESUS 6 years ago from USA

Very well done - love the food item! Wow! Great Hub!

Purple Perl profile image

Purple Perl 6 years ago from Bangalore,India

Wow! I salute you,Patty Inglish! You are indeed SUCCESSFUL at all you do. Investing in people and motivating them to lead quality life makes you doubly successful. Truly inspirational, and worth emulating.

Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 6 years ago from North America Author

Nice words for you all, I must say!

Purple Perl - Thanks so much for saying this; it is encouraging. Everyone can do a good thing now and again and I hope they do so. :)

fionadeog 6 years ago

to be able to live well = success, for you and for others

Darrell Roberts profile image

Darrell Roberts 6 years ago

Great hub,

I was thinking of my martial arts instructor as I read your hub. He is a wonderful instructor and friend. I really appreciate how you view success. Controling my emotions and becoming a better person are high on the top of my list, when I think of success.

I wish you well.

profile image

MarianG 6 years ago

I love this! People can be so mean when they are basically insecure within themselves and this can create all kinds of childish games. It's too bad that the majority of people in our society have very mixed up priorities when it comes to thinking about what is "success..." Sad, really!

Sa`ge profile image

Sa`ge 6 years ago from Barefoot Island

It all started with getting there as being successful, getting top grades, the best of this or that. I could never feel right with all that even as a child. Success to me is being happy because those around me are truly happy. I love helping people become the best they can be, best as a person, as a human being, one to another! This to me is being successful. This makes me smile. Your hub makes me smile :D thumbs up and I following you now! ~aloha nui~

Tammy L profile image

Tammy L 6 years ago from Jacksonville, Texas

Patty, this was a very beautifully written hub. I enjoyed it very much.

seanorjohn profile image

seanorjohn 6 years ago

Great hub and voted up. My favourite quote is RW Emerson. "To find the best in others.... to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived, this is to have succeeded".

Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 6 years ago from North America Author

Thanks for all the comments! More than one person can be happy at a time, Amen?

Tammy L profile image

Tammy L 6 years ago from Jacksonville, Texas


munirahmadmughal profile image

munirahmadmughal 6 years ago from Lahore, Pakistan.

"What does success means to you?"

This is a wonderful, excelllent, and thought provoking hub, each word of which is essence of practical nature.

The author of the hub is clear in mind, bold in articulation, full of vision, and seems highly learned person.

Success means achieving the goal.The goal of human beings is to be achieved by their role. The difficulty arises when one finds difference of poles. The way seems smooth but when trodden upon one finds many holes. A thing that appeared a mountain when came close it appears a mole. Reason and intelligence serve the purpose of providing street light but the distance is beyond the beyond. The traveller is finite and the goal is infinite. Thanks the Creator of all who mad human beings responsible and test was cofined to the capacity of each and no more. Deviation to cost a single punishment and obedience to be rewarded minimum at tenfold. Forgiveness is another gift. Door of repentance has been kept open over past evil deeds.

It is not the quantity or volume of work done for the welfar of others, rather it is the quality even if it is of the quantum of a thread of dates dried seed. It is the sincerety, piety, and good morals that are counted in all this affair. Extending hand of help even if not reached causes solace and other person feels much satisfied and feels that there was some one to help him.

May God bless all.

Malvin13 profile image

Malvin13 6 years ago from New Jersey

I enjoyed your article so much that I linked one of my article to this one. Good jod

Carrie Foreword profile image

Carrie Foreword 6 years ago from Leicestershire, England, UK

Hi Patty

Thought provoking... and sad to say many of the same criteria define the popular idea of "success" in the UK. Envy, greed, the notion nowadays that it's somehow "OK" to stamp all over someone else in order to get what YOU need. To me, all seems driven by fear and anxiety.

Insightful article, thanks.

Cheryl J. profile image

Cheryl J. 6 years ago from Houston, TX


A great article with lots of valuable information. I am truly motivated with your message. A great hub.

pstmighty profile image

pstmighty 6 years ago from Johannesburg

Love you are a success!

Success is not success if its not permanent.

And you have left the hearts of many eternally grateful to God for meeting you and that is true success

Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 6 years ago from North America Author

@pstmighty - I am humbled by your sentiments!

Thanks everyone so much for your comments.

Adam Wilson profile image

Adam Wilson 6 years ago

I admire you Patty! You have written 1450 hubs! For me, it is unimaginable number!

Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 6 years ago from North America Author

@Adam Wilson - Thanks for commenting! I've been here almost four years, but wrote only 20 or fewer, shorter Hubs my first month with HubPages and gradually worked into writing more frequently and more in-depth work on some topics.

It takes patience, organization, and determination, cetainly, and I think the willingness to improve writing skills and use all the new features that HP provides so frequently. Participation in the 30 Hubs in 30 Days Challenge helps spur you on to accomplish a writing goal, as well as do other programs around Hubpages. If you write one good Hub a day, they soon number many.

Best wishes to you!

Bilalnr profile image

Bilalnr 5 years ago from Islamabad, Pakistan

Great Hub so inspiring Patty Inglish, MS!!!!

cheerfulnuts profile image

cheerfulnuts 5 years ago from Manila, Philippines

Patty, you are undeniably successful. Great hub! :)

Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 5 years ago from North America Author

Now if I could just make some money, cheerfulnuts! - Oh, that's right - I do - on HubPages :) Thanks for posting cheerful; I'll go check out your Hubs.

manthy profile image

manthy 5 years ago from Alabama,USA

Success for me is when I get to help others, I love the feeling I get when I know I am helping someone in need.

Thanks for the hub & May God-Bless you in everything you do.

dusy7969 profile image

dusy7969 5 years ago from San Diego, California

Great hub.This hub is very informative and useful.I could never feel right with all that even as a child. Success to me is being happy because those around me are truly happy.

Thanks a lot patty for this good sharing.

mariefontaine profile image

mariefontaine 5 years ago from Indianapolis, Indiana

I long to write like you. Informative and constructed so professionally. I stand to learn from you.

strong n fit profile image

strong n fit 5 years ago

If you can save someones life or make someone happy thats the greatest success.thank you very much.

profile image

LYS 5 years ago

Glad to hear you mention martial arts as a positive force , I personally am a muaythai practitioner and instructor and I personally define success as not having to go to a job that I do not like and have to do things I do not want to do......life is for living not something that happens whilst we are making other plans . Thanks Patty

PeanutButterWine profile image

PeanutButterWine 5 years ago from North Vancouver, B.C. Canada

Very inspiring Hub Patty! I particularly liked the list of 'unhealthy success', we have all had a few of these 'manipulators' in our lives at one time or another, and I have to agree that its not any way I choose to behave nor do I like to surround myself with such negative toxic types of behaviors. We could all take a few lessons away from this Hub !

Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 5 years ago from North America Author

A lot of commentors have offered ways they can attain positive success, and I appreciate them. Thanks!

PeanutButterWine - I also do not like to be surround with toxic behaviors.

Helping others and doing the job we enjoy are important, as several people have written here. I agree fully.

Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas to all of you.

aefrancisco profile image

aefrancisco 5 years ago from somewhere down the road

ah ... great hub ... composed of enlightenment ... now I wonder ... am a successful? .. hmmm ... something to think about ...

liftandsoar profile image

liftandsoar 5 years ago from Richmond, VA

Great thought Patty. I associate success with faithfulness. Faithfulness to my values, my friends and family and ultimately to my Lord before whom I stand or fall. The judge of that faithfulness is not me but those to whom I strive to be faithful. Thanks for your writing.

Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 5 years ago from North America Author

That is a beautiful post!

profile image

SanXuary 5 years ago

Success is learning, maturing and growing at all levels of your life. This can not be measured by Earthly rewards but you our usually rewarded eventually by them.

prairieprincess profile image

prairieprincess 4 years ago from Canada

I love your definition of success. This is a good reminder of what's really important in life. You have touched my heart with this hub. Thank you and blessings to you.

Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 4 years ago from North America Author

It is encouraging to feel that others take the same attitudes. We have Hope in that. Thanks!

Maria Cecilia profile image

Maria Cecilia 4 years ago from Philippines

great hub you pointed out which is more important in life....

ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 4 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

Hi Patty, I enjoyed reading what success meant to you. It is more than money and all about meaning and fulfillment. :) Love and blessings.

Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 4 years ago from North America Author

Thank you, ripplemaker. Money is not the best thing in the world.

vasantha  T k profile image

vasantha T k 22 months ago from Bangalore

Success, you have been an inspiration and motivational force for many .Best wishes

Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 22 months ago from North America Author

Best wishes and Happy Spring to you!

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.

    Patty Inglish, MS profile image

    Patty Inglish (Patty Inglish, MS)6,775 Followers
    2,168 Articles

    Over 25 years successful experience in Medicine; Health- and I/O Psychology; STEM, STEAM and other education, research, and sports training.

    Click to Rate This Article