What is Success?

The Definition of Success Depends on Your Personal Values

Everybody wants to succeed, but what is success really about? The definition depends on the person and the situation. That is why you have to start within yourself in order to achieve, because you should not follow somebody else´s definition of success.

I believe that we all are brain washed. Yes, really. Most of us have been told from the day we were born how to behave to fit in, to be accepted, to be loved, to succeed. Some of us rarely question the ideas that others have forced upon us. Naturally (Thank God!) children protest as parents and other adults try to manipulate them into thinking in ways that they find acceptable.

Most of us give in, however. The reason is that the price we pay for not fitting in is usually too great. We do not want to lose the love that parents give us. We do not want to risk losing the acceptance we get from others. We all want to belong. We rarely stop and ask "What is success in this given situation and do I really want it?"

And in childhood all of this well meaning influence takes place subconsciously. Little wonder then that we end up accepting other people´s ideas and rarely ask ourselves what we truly want/think/feel or as adults ask ourselves at a deeper level:What do I want? Or what is success to me?

Read the powerful words below from the song "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill". They describe the insight that all life we have accepted somebody else´s definition of success, and that it is no longer necessary. What is success? To realize that the strength is within, not out there somewhere. Finding your own destiny is one definition of success.

"My world it moves so fast today/The past it seems so far away / And I squeeze it so tight that I can´t breathe/ And every time I try to be/ What someone else thought of me / So caught up, I wasn´t able to achieve / But deep in my heart the answer it was in me / And I made up my mind to find my own destiny / I look at my environment / And wonder where the fire went / What happened to everything we used to be / I hear so many cry for help / Searching outside of themselves / Now I know His strength is within me / And deep in my heart the answer it was in me / And I made up my mind to find my own destiny"

(Lauryn Hill)

I would also like to add that success is a matter of perspective. Recently I met a man who had been an avid soccer player all of his life. An accident at work made him immobile from the waist down and he is now in a wheel chair. Doctors have told him (Why did they give him such discouraging news? Thank God there are tons of stories of people who have proved their doctors wrong!) that he would never be able to walk again. He went to several doctors and they were all convinced that this man really would never, ever move his feet.

So what is success to this man? He was devastated. All hope was gone and he went from extremely physically active to a life in his wheel chair. Then what happened? A part of him did not believe in the doctors´ gloomy prediction. He started training himself on a daily basis. And he set a goal: "I will walk again. Soon I will walk to the door of my neighbors/friends and surprise them."

And he did. One day after countless hours of training with his supportive physiotherapist, he actually walked over to his friends and showed them too that anything is possible if you believe it is.

I am not saying it was or is easy. I just love to share the power of this story. Personally, I also love the power of setting and achieving goals.

With all that said, I will return to my point of departure, which is the definition of success. This man does not dream of being a soccer champion anymore, but do you think he is less successful now than before? Of course not! He set a goal to walk. He now walks a little bit. And what is success to him? The ability to overcome obstacles. The ability to grow and become a little bit better every day. That is one definition of success.

What is success? Is it moving into your dream house? Is it finding the right partner? Is it working with whatever you love doing? Is it a superb salary? Is it indirectly the fact that your kids do well? I would say yes, sure. BUT not only those things! If we only have the outer attributes and material things or people outside of ourselves to relate to, then we are poor and unsuccessful within.

What is success about? It is about being good to ourselves and others, to appreciate life and display gratitude for what we are and what we have and for what we do not have too. Success is daring to be more, to grow a little bit every day. It is about facing challenges and knowing that we will learn from them and become stronger as human beings.

Finally, remember that we are human beings, not human doings. Consequently, one definition of success is just being alive! Or "Every day above ground is a good day!" Why not? What is success to you?

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