Defining Success

Defining success was something I struggled with when I was working. How do you know if you’re a success? In this competitive, achievement and results-oriented world, can everyone be successful?

Literal definitions of success

I think it makes sense to begin with the literal definitions of success in order to answer that question.

  1. The accomplishment of an aim or purpose
  2. The attainment of popularity or profit
  3. A person or thing that achieves desired aims or attains prosperity

I thought these synonyms might be helpful as well.

Favorable outcome, favorable result, positive result, victory, triumph, prosperity, affluence, wealth, riches, fortune, opulence, luxury, comfort, life of ease.

Hmmm. Still not sure, but of course, anything can be considered an accomplishment, right? And I guess you have to say anyone who’s popular or prosperous is naturally a success?

I think there has to be more, don’t you?

Why now?

You may wonder why I am thinking about this now, when I’ve been out of the working world for three years. How is success measured when you don’t have the corporate world judging you? Don’t we all want to be considered a success, even without a job?

This Sunday’s church service included the confirmation of 8th graders. Confirmation is a big step in their lives and the sermon was centered around what will make them successful as they go forward.

Pastor Mike based a lot of his sermon on Mr. Rogers. You all remember him, right? “Won’t you be my neighbor?” I learned a lot about him that I never knew.

Thought provoking

We saw a clip of Mr. Rogers giving a commencement speech. His focus was not on what the graduates had to do in life to be successful but more about what they should be. As Mike pointed out, we are human “beings”, not human “doings”.

All sermons should be thought-provoking, but this one especially struck me. It reminded me there’s more to life than money and popularity. I know you’re probably saying, “no kidding”, but while it seems like common sense, our actions don’t always confirm we know it.

Of course, having money and popularity is nice, but those things aren’t enough. We always want more.

I remember having discussions at work regarding raises and promotions. No one would ever say, “don’t give me any more money”. But the thrill of it was temporary. The motivation it might have provided quickly wore off and you were back wondering the same things – am I a success?

Who decides? I finally came to the conclusion that each of us has to define our own version of success. We can’t all be the president of the company but does that make us less successful?

And we can’t compare ourselves to others because impressions can be deceptive. The person you think has it all together probably has the same doubts you do. I’m sure there are many people that think you have it made as well, even though I’m betting most of you question your success too.

So, what’s the answer?

Can everyone be successful? The answer is yes. We just need to use a different form of measurement than we might typically use.

There are three ways to ultimate success:

The first way is to be kind.

The second way is to be kind.

The third way is to be kind.

Fred Rogers

Sounds easy, right? This is something each of us can be, no matter what we do. Simply put – be a good person. So what if you aren’t the president of the company or even at a lower level of management? Every job is important and doing it well and treating people well will make you a success.

It doesn’t mean you won’t have to make and carry out tough decisions. But even those can be made and executed with kindness.

The local news last night featured a man who spreads joy as a school crossing guard. Some might not consider him a success.

But he’s always in a good mood and isn’t afraid to share it. One person even told him how he’d helped her find the good in a terrible day, simply by showing kindness. Isn’t that something we’d all like to hear?

If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of.
There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.

Fred Rogers

Working towards success

As we go through our daily lives, whether we’re working or retired, success is as simple as enjoying what you do, doing it well, and treating others with kindness. Who knew it could be so simple?

Don’t lose your grip on Love and Loyalty. Tie them around your neck; carve their initials on your heart. Earn a reputation for living well in God’s eyes and the eyes of the people.

Proverbs 3:3-4 (The Message)

4 thoughts on “Defining Success”

  1. Wow. This one really got to me Linda! I strive to do something every week to make another person’s day a little brighter.

    A few years ago I gave each of my children and grandchildren $20 for Christmas with a stipulation – it must be used to help a stranger and they must let me know how they used it. They learned what a difference an act of kindness can make. Success in my book!

    And you’ll never believe… one year not too long before I retired, I actually told my boss I felt I was paid well for what I did and to use my portion of her small salary increase budget for someone else on the team! I can’t remember now if she did but what was I thinking?!?

    1. Sounds like you’re definitely a success!! But giving up a salary increase? You’re an overachiever!! ❤️

  2. I love Mr. Rogers. He truly defined success and lived his faith. Most everyone who knew him wanted to be more like him. The pinnacle of success.

    1. I don’t think I ever watched his show but I certainly know of his reputation. I also didn’t realize he was the creator of Daniel the Tiger. Our grandkids love the animated version.

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