Reaching for a Better Definition of Success

How shall we define success? Most of us use the word “success” for a variety of meanings. There’s the kind of success when we win something we want to win at. There’s the kind of success that we apply to those who have achieved some kind of significant milestone or admirable outcome. For example, many would agree that those who have earned or attracted financial abundance, widely recognized expertise, or stature are successful in some way.

But let’s aim broader in our definition of success. Let’s consider overall life success—Success with a  big “S,” as opposed to “this moment’s win” kind of success.

I’ll begin with a straightforward proposal: that achieving overall life Success need not depend on winning, but can depend instead on how we feel about what we have, what we are going for, and how we are going for what we’re going for. Don’t worry, if you are not successful by this suggested definition of success, you are but a few thoughts away from getting closer to it.

So, let’s play with the idea that our level of Success (big “S”) is the level of “great” we’re feeling about our life or life process right now.

If I am full of optimism about where I am going, then I am Successful. If I am appreciative of where I am now, and who I am now, and I am full of new dreams and desires and am eager to get up and get out and live life, I am Successful.

True Success, then, by the above definition, depends not as much on what we’re doing, as it does what we’re thinking and feeling (on the gut, or heart level) about what we’re doing and how we’re doing it.

This kind of success is that place we are when we’re engaged in something inspiring, or on our way to something inspiring, or getting to know someone inspiring, or leading from inspiration. This kind of Success is more verb than noun.

If we are not currently in this kind of Success, we have three choices:

  • Change what we are doing.
  • Change our thinking about what we are doing.
  • Remain unSuccessful.

If we are currently unSuccessful (by this blog’s definition), then the good news is that no matter where we are in life, getting Successful isn’t very far away—as long as we know how make the new choices that will put us back “in Success.”

In the spirit of making further distinction between success (small “s”) and Success (large “S”): If you have a lot of money, but you don’t feel great about what you are doing or where you are going, you are not Successful. You are abundant with money, but by this blog’s definition, not Successful.

You’ve achieved success (small “s”) in creating one kind of abundance, but it’s not Success (big “S”), unless it is absolutely all you need to feel great about where you are right now and where you are going.

In fact, I’ll venture it’s rare that an individual is completely satisfied by material abundance, if such a person exists at all. Most of the Successful (big “S”) people I know who are happy and have an abundance of money, are not all that focused on the money. On the contrary: in such cases it is far more common that these individuals enjoy whatever game or discipline they were involved in, pursued or participated in it with focus and passion, and thus ended up with abundance of money as a result of focus and passion and in many cases—joyful action—and not because they were chasing wealth as their cure for unhappiness.

If you want the Universe to smile, try smiling first.

If you’ve accomplished a business goal, but don’t feel good about how you came about doing it, you aren’t Successful. If you’ve won a game, but you chose to break rules to do it—and so you can’t feel great about who you were in all that—well, you are not Successful.

You don’t have to have any “thing” or have achieved any milestone to have Success, though it is much easier to achieve goals and hit milestones and create abundance working with Success a process.

And if (personally) you’ve failed the definition of Success (so far), it’s really not a problem, because Success is just a few new thoughts away.

Success is about the thoughts about what you are doing (there are no typos in that last sentence). The thoughts produce feelings. And from where I sit, Success is something you feel, not do.

One great way to get “in Success” is to think about what you are contributing—however small or large—to the lives of others. Follow this up with appreciation for your ability to contribute in this way, and then appreciation for the folks who are contributing to your life, and who are appreciating your contribution. Are you starting to feel more successful?

Now, some folks will ask, “If I am feeling Successful about where I am now, what’s the incentive to go for more?”

Good question. Rest assured, because of the Desire Engine in all of us, no matter how successful you feel about where you are now, you will always have another desire pulling at you, and hopefully inspiring you to ever more growth and abundance. That said, the question regarding why you are going for more of anything, is also a very good one (not because you shouldn’t, but because going for new desires is good, and you want to know the honest reasons for doing so).

Start recognizing those thoughts that make you feel unSuccessful, and either put the lie to them, or follow them to new preferences that will bring feelings of Success (“I know I didn’t like that, now what do I want?“)

Start seeing yourself as successful. Start today. Find appreciation for both wins and failures, though both are but transient bits of life that many of us take far too seriously.

Look for inspiration or value in every interaction or connection—family, friends, co-workers and strangers—there’s always something there for you.

Sense the value of delivering from the strength of who you are, regardless of what you’ve accomplished so far, or who you know.

Choose self-accountability. Default to what you can or could do and how you can help, whenever possible.

Trade judgement (good or bad), for ongoing assessment and “working hypothesis.” Allow for different paths and the awesome diversity that the world provides. This will release resistance and stress, and allow for more avenues for success.

Last, but not least, try cultivating a playful attitude towards both Success and abundance! Treat both as a you would a lively, energizing guest you’d like to receive in your home. If you called this intended guest every day, and instisted that he or she come over, how far do you think you would get? On the other hand,  if you are playful, and energized, and this guest was attracted to you, he or she would look forward to seeing you, and come calling more often. That’s the kind of relationship you want to have with Success and abundance.

Going at Success in this way, you can enjoy it beginning from any socioeconomic status or starting point, doing almost anything. There’s a real advantage in that, both psychological and practical. You can go for more wealth. You can go for more love or intimacy. You can go for better communication. You can go for better health—whatever—while maintaining a Successful attitude.

At the same time, you can have Success before going for any of the above. In fact, getting “into Success,” or into Successful mindset, is the quickest way to more wealth and greater wellbeing, and that’s good news.


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