Success; just what is the definition?

According to Mariam Webster the definition of SUCCESS

  1. obsolete : outcome, result
  2. a : degree or measure of succeeding b : favorable or desired outcome; also : the attainment of wealth, favor, or eminence

Most people only look at the second part of 2-b, ‘the attainment of wealth, favor, or eminence’.  It is with this that I have issue.  There are other ways to be considered ‘successful’ that are completely overlooked.

I was just talking with a friend of mine.  As girls we used to walk

Hoard of ancient gold coins

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around Balboa Island and look at the houses, dreaming of our futures with the hopes that we would be successful.  We hoped that we would be rich and powerful women in the workforce.  She hoped of possibly landing into real estate or owning her own company.  I would be famous as an actress or singer, without a doubt, and go off to New York by way of England in the Royal Shakespearean Company.

We both got accepted to Cal State Universities and went onto college.  However, as life would have it she dropped out of college with all the intention of completing her degree later; and got married and had a family.  I too dropped out of college and fumbled from one job to the next, went back to Jr. College and was holding three jobs just trying to keep up.  My dream of being an actress just didn’t seem ‘practical’ and so I got a ‘real job’ and ended up moving north.  She found herself with one baby and then two, so needless to say college went on the back burner.

Before we knew it we found ourselves in our 40’s.  While we were talking she was telling me how she didn’t see her life as a success.  Now, this is a woman who has raised two of the most self sufficient and thoroughly enjoyable women I have ever had the pleasure of knowing, working alongside her husband in building their successful business.  Put both their girls through school; and has done so without so much as a complaint.  I asked her, ‘how could that not be successful?’  So many other parents might be rolling in the dough, be heads of Fortune 500 companies, but their children are completely lost and are a mess.  Parenting is ‘the’ most important career out there.  Now that, coupled with working the family’s successful business, putting in weekends and nights, I’m hearing ‘SUCCESS’ loud and clear!

I have another friend who seems to be suffering from the same plight.  She compares herself to all of her friends and how they must have it together because they have their doctorate or they have built such a financial success for themselves.  But this is a woman who, as a teacher, still gets letters and emails from students that she taught years ago.  Now, I ask you, does that sound to you like an unsuccessful person?  She has impacted hundreds of little minds in a positive way.  She was voted Teacher of the Year and continues to strive to find new ways to reach out and make the learning last.  Doesn’t sound like an ‘unsuccessful’ person to me.

The first part of our definition is ‘favorable or desired outcome’ and in both these scenarios I do believe they achieved a favorable and desired outcome.  We get so hiped up on comparing ourselves to the ‘wealth’ of others that we forget to see what we have done  is right in front of our noses.

I think we all should keep an ‘at-a-boy/girl file’.  When life gets a bit harsh or we get a bit low, you pull that out.  In there you keep all the notes, all the praises, all the awards, all the pictures.  Pull them out from time to time to remind you just how successful we all are.

I’m the first to say that I haven’t done what I set out to do, but I’m also going to tell you that I’m not done yet.  I continue to reinvent myself and I don’t have to keep the little girl  I was happy.  Those dreams I had were wonderful at one time, but I have new dreams, new aspirations and many new things I wish to do.  There is a whole lot of life still waiting to be lived.

Success can be measured in many ways; and not to mitigate those who have pulled themselves up to be the millionaires that run companies; but I think the true measure of success is what we do with each other and in the character of a man.  Not in the degrees or the money, but rather in the love and the compassion you show.

You might say, “Nora that’s a given, that’s easy” but I say, it’s not as easy as you think.  There are a great many people out there that are what I call emotionally retarded.  They have absolutely no concept and they have absolutely no ethics.  Many would look at some who seem so brilliant and who have done so much for an industry, as successful.  But they treat their employees and sales force with no humanity; like puppets or pawns in a game, their game.

No, don’t be fooled by the money factor.  Too many people can be so clearly blinded, especially in this economy.  Love and compassion must be the driving force.

So, what is the definition?  I prefer to stick with the first part -favorable or desired outcome… and add ‘the attainment of character, love and compassion through the eyes of those you touch’.


3 thoughts on “Success; just what is the definition?

  1. I very much agree with you and the person above’s comment. I’m not going to lie, that’s how I used to think: money, money, and life will be good. But it’s not, there are simpler pleasures in life that makes everything much more meaningful and sometimes we find happiness in the places where we least expect =)

  2. Pingback: success | My Test Blog

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