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What is success – The practical definition of success

Updated on January 11, 2012
Let's zero in on the real definition of success rather than talking vaguely about things like being rich, being popular, doing what you love doing and some such. What does success mean in the real life of an average joe?
Let's zero in on the real definition of success rather than talking vaguely about things like being rich, being popular, doing what you love doing and some such. What does success mean in the real life of an average joe? | Source

What is success? What is the meaning of success? What is the definition of success? What does success really mean in the life of an average person? Forget the vague cliché answers like earning lots of money, climbing up the management hierarchy, being famous and some such. Let's also forget what the management gurus and management textbooks have taught you. This article will not teach you how to be successful, but will lay down 7 core and very practical elements that answer the million dollar question, what is success.

1) Success – When people respect you

One of the first things that a successful person commands is the respect of others. We all find it hard to look up to and even at times, take inspiration from the work and passion of successful people, don't we? That's exactly how others will feel when they see you reach a point in your life when you can rightly be called successful.

Example: Let's take the example of Justin Bieber. When one of his first videos went viral, a majority of the netizens revolted against the type of music this sensation was making. In fact, if you go through many of the comments of his YouTube videos, you will realize that people had little or no respect for Justin. Few years later, after many chart topping hits, Grammy Award nominations, American Music Awards wins, a biopic concert film and millions of albums later, the industry greats and many other show their respect for the teen sensation who we all thought would not survive. He is the classic example of the fact that respect often stems from being successful.

2) Success - When you silence your critics

There will always be people who will talk behind your back. In fact, it is unlikely that such a person exists on the face of this planet behind whose back people don't say nasty things. After all, if people can say nasty things about the Pope, the President and even their own parents, no one is exempt from this vicious habit we humans have developed. However you will notice that if you achieve success, you will silence most of the people who used to talk behind your back. Don't rejoice too much though, there will always be a new breed of critics waiting to pounce upon your personality, character and morality the very moment you take the next step to achieve higher levels of success in your life.

Example: A classic example of how a successful person has silenced many of her critics is Lady Gaga. Right from the way she sings to the way she dressed, Lady Gaga has faced the wrath of critics worldwide. However all that mellowed down when Gaga took the music charts, Grammy Awards, Guinness World Records, MTV VMAs and tabloids by storm. After Gaga became successful, reviews of her music videos and performances often include the words 'critically acclaimed'. Why all the love suddenly?

3) Success - When you give up your bad habits

Bad habits are hard to give up and they require strong determination and a will power that is out of bounds. One of the core elements of success is a person's ability to beat his or her own bad habits to become a better person. Do you think Steve Jobs would have become the legend that he was, if he had been lazy all his life? Of course not. That is exactly why one of the basic things that is a part of the formula of success lies within you – your will power to quit your own bad habits. You really don't need to look too far, do you?

Example: It is no secret that Steve Jobs flew to India in 1974 for spiritual enlightenment. Surely at that time, Jobs must have been faced an uphill battle with his own self and personality, because of which he searched for enlightenment. Beating all odds and after experimenting with LSD, Steve Jobs emerged as a stronger person who beat all odds to become an inventor who will be remembered for years to come.

4) Success - When you win awards for your work

Winning awards is often seen as the pinnacle of success. For example, an Academy Award is the definition of success for a Hollywood actor while winning a Weblog Award is the meaning of success for a blogger. Award and recognition is a core part of being successful simply because they imply that your work or your achievements are worthy of applause.

5) Success – When you earn enough to maintain a good lifestyle for yourself and your loved ones

What is a good lifestyle is a separate debate altogether and we are not going to discuss that because the definition of a good lifestyle may involve spending a million dollar for the rich folks. But if you think that you earn enough money to maintain and sustain a good and healthy lifestyle for yourself and your family, you are successful in your own right. Caring for your loved ones has never gone out of vogue, and still remains a key element to judge whether a person is successful or not.

6) Success – When you silence the people who thought you couldn't make it

No we are not talking about the people who hate you for what you are or criticize you. We are talking about the people who don't believe in you. These are the people who have always thought and made it very clear to you - "You won't make it" Success is achieved when you can step up and look that person in the eye and say "I made it. You were wrong"

Example: It was 1961 when The Beatles auditioned for Decca Records only to be rejected by the recording company which said "The Beatles have no future in show business" How wrong were they?

7) Success – When you get what you wanted

As you'd imagine, the definition of success can be vague when a question like "how much" is thrown around in relation to the amount of money, possession, fame and recognition. To bring it down to a very real and individualistic level, success is achieved when you get what you want. This can be as simple as getting the promotion you've worked hard for, buying the house you've always wanted, taking your business profit to a certain level, etc. It really does not matter how high the bar is from the perspective of others. Success is, when you've met the bar you set earlier.

Success – The definition is a loop in itself

If you look at any of the above parameters that we talked about above, you will realize that success is a very relative term. For example, if success means getting what you want, then there will always be the next big thing that you desire. If success is all about silencing your critics, then there will always be a new set of critics around the corner. If success is about gaining respect of your colleagues, there will be always be newer colleagues whose respect you will have to gain over time.

As you see, the definition of success is a loop in itself. The core elements that we discussed above may remain the same, but their relativity to your state of mind will keep changing as time goes by.

Best sellers books on success, hard work, fame and principles on


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