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What is the true meaning of success?

Updated on June 14, 2008

Interesting question as the word success will mean different things to different people so there is no true meaning but only an interpretation of the definition. Success is often equated with achievement and also financial rewards so I think we can interpret success as being twofold: one is outward success and the other inward success.

Outward success is what the outside world can see and measure (according to its values) so achievement on the career ladder, material wealth (money, cars, houses, jewellery), reaching the top place in sports, science or any other field is success for the individual or team.

Success involves reaching a goal of whatever sort. This goal can be set by society who will decide the rules of success or by the individual who will set their own rules and this is inward success. There are many examples of people who have success in one field (business for instance) and have miserable failures in others (their relationships). I am sure you could fill in a few names here! Or they have achieved success at the expense of other people either by being ruthless or conmen. So can these individuals be said to be truly successful? In my opinion, no, as they are missing the inward part of success in the same way as a Phyrric victory cannot be said to be a success.

Many women feel they are left behind by the societal definition of success and the success that they achieve in the home which is not only considerable in itself but indispensable to the success of nations is completely undervalued if not completely ignored. As a teacher, I see successful parenting as children arriving in class in a state of readiness to learn and therefore preparing your children for their own success in society.

For some people, success seems to be a moving target, no sooner have they reached one goal that they move on to another, never feeling fully satisfied that they have arrived. You see this in singers and actors and also sports personalities who do yet another come-back show when they should really have stopped at the peak of their success. This is another example of outward success not matching inward success.

In conclusion, I would say that outward success is meaningless without the inward personal achievements of integrity, moral values, probity and respect for others.


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