What Success Involves

Asking people what is success will elicit different answers. What success is to one is different from what is to the other one. It is one of those ‘words’ whose definition is not universally accepted. A look at dictionaries will show two themes revolve around the meaning of success: wealth and achievement.

According to Webster Dictionary, success is defined as the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.

The Free Dictionary defines success as “The achievement of something desired, planned or attempted: attributed their success in a business to hard work.”

Merriam-Webster defines it as “the fact of getting or achieving wealth, respect or fame: the correct or desired result of an attempt.”

Therefore, it seems success is measured with the wealth one has attained or the achievement of something, for example, fulfilling a goal.

On the other hand, if one was to ask several people on what is not success, then one will receive numerous answers on what does not constitute success. Some of the answers to be expected would be:

  • Not having enough money
  • Failing in examination
  • Broke
  • Earning peanuts
  • Business not doing well
  • Failure in relationships
  • Always facing drawbacks or disappointments, and so on and so forth.

The purpose of this paper is to try to find out what is success. Is it true people confuse the results of success from success itself? If a scientist discovered a vaccine for a disease, can we say that scientist was successful? What if contrasted with this: a person who is ‘filthy’ wealthy, can it said to be success? Or does it involve both of them: wealth and accomplishment?


Where does one draw the line of what is success, and the fruit of success? If looked closely, one will find out the answers many people provide are in fact not success in its entirety but the fruits or results of the success – the manifestation of success. They are manifestations of success a person was able to achieve may be through hard work, of course which is a determining factor of success.

When a person is nearing to sitting for his/her final examination, he/she will be sent success cards wishing him/her all the best. If the person passed the examinations with a grade of A, we say that person was successful. What about a candidate who didn’t pass the exams? Do we say that person failed? He didn’t succeed in exams? Certainly, the answer is yes. It is here where disagreements boil down when a person says the candidate who failed in exams, in reality the candidate did succeed.


Where does the problem arise when a person says a candidate who attained an E in final examination did succeed? The problem arises from the way our minds have been conditioned to think and reason. What we don’t realize is that that candidate who attained E did in fact succeed. Why? Because that person to reach that level of sitting for the final examination was a success.

Not all people make it to the final year in high school. They gave up along the way. Not because in their homes there is the problem of paying school fees, they just couldn’t persevere any longer.


As stated above, owning several cars, a company, being wealthy and other things associated with success is manifestations or results of success. They are not success in themselves. Also, it was found in the different dictionaries two terms seem to be revolving around the meaning of success: wealth and achievement. It’s the second one which clearly defines what success is.

This is clearly pointed out by TED: “Success can mean: feeling that tingle of excitement about what you do, sticking with what matters through hard times, and living a life of which you know derives pleasures in a positive way.” This is in essence, the true meaning of success.

What Is Success - Motivational Video

Crossroads: Success or Failure by StockMonkeys.com, on Flickr
Crossroads: Success or Failure by StockMonkeys.com, on Flickr | Source

The following are quotes (extracted from Brainyquote, keepinspiring.me and goodreads.com) on what is truly success and when say a person is successful.

  1. Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts (Winston Churchill).
  2. The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand. (Vince Lombardi)
  3. Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it. (Bruce Lee)
  4. Don’t aim for success if you want it: just do what you love and believe in, and it will come naturally. (David Frost)
  5. The worst part of success is trying to find someone who is happy for you. (Bette Midler)
  6. Accept responsibility for your life. Know that it is you who will get you where you want to go, no one else. (Les Brown)
  7. The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. (Steve Jobs)
  8. Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds you plant. (Robert Louis Stevenson)

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