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Success and Failure: How do you define these terms?

Updated on April 20, 2012

What is the Goal

Turtle Peak
Turtle Peak | Source

The Idea of Success or Failure begins with a goal

Often our goals are set by others expectations of us or our own unrealistic expectation for ourselves. Is our goal to reach the top of the mountain or is it to enjoy the journey that leads us toward the top of the mountain.

When we focus on reaching the top of the mountain we may lose sight of the experience of the journey. Recently on a hiking trip in Nevada my wife and I undertook a hike up Turtle Mountain. The park guide warned us that is was the most difficult hike within Red Rock Conservation Area and we should be prepared with the correct equipment and lots of water. We were of course prepared, undaunted we began our excursion.

Along the way we began to think about the idea of success and failure. As other hikers streaked past us we began to think about the idea of success or failure and what our goal was for this hike.


Have you defined your goal correctly?

When the goal is to reach the top of the mountain our focus is steadfastly pointed toward that end. All of our energy is concentrated toward the effort and we may fail to experience the journey toward our goal. Thus, should we not reach the peak we consider our effort a failure.

As we began our walk, I realized a change of perspective was in order. Instead of looking up toward this insurmountable peak, we began looking down and found surprising beauty and the epitome of success. The tiniest of flowers peeking through the desert floor in full bloom. Our focus on the ascent to the peak caused us to only focus on our pathway to that end.

Is the goal about the journey or the destination?


Continuing our hike with a new perspective, we began to see beauty at our feet which went unnoticed by all the others who passed by with their eyes firmly focused on the destination. Our pace slowed and we began to experience all the contrasts the desert trail had to offer, the sharp contrast between life and death and survival to full extent under extreme and unlikely conditions.

The journey yielded an experience of learning, questioning and beauty, along with the thought of overcomming the odds in difficult circumstances to reach success.

Simply Survival !


Our hike ended on a bluff about three quarters of the way up the mountain with our origional goal destination unmet. However, we did not consider our hike a failure, to the contrary, our hike was very sucessful. My wife and I elplored the desert landscape, considering our new perspective. Even the most desolate of places show the resiliance to produce beauty. Often when you consider smaller goals on your way to a larger goal you will experience many successes, learn new things about yourself, find new sights unseen before and create new experiences that create new meaning for your life.

Success or Failure?

Success or failure you define these terms. Challange yourself to reconsider how you measure you sucesses and your failures, allow yourself to define these terms for yourself. Choose to consider new ways of looking at old things and above all do not live by others definition of success for you.


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    • mjboomer profile image

      Mike Elzner 5 years ago from Oregon

      Absolutely !

    • liftandsoar profile image

      Frank P. Crane 5 years ago from Richmond, VA

      Ha! Right on. And I suspect that having your wife alone increased the degree of success you felt in the journey! Great Hub!