Most people desire to be successful. This begs a couple of questions: What do we mean by success? What does a successful life look like?
I want to share my two favorite definitions. Both have helped me.
Success as Pursuit of a Goal
First, Earl Nightingale known as the “Dean of Personal Development” describes success this way:
“Success is the progressive realization of a worthy goal or ideal.”
I resonate with this definition because it reminds us that success is more a journey than a destination. It involves setting goals as we talked about previously, but notice that Nightingale includes the word “ideal” as a synonym for “goal.”
In other words, a key to success is establishing a large vision or ideal on your horizon that will guide you in your growth. Jim Rohn puts it this way: “You want to set a goal big enough that in the process of attaining it, you become someone worthy becoming.”
When we think about success in this manner, we will realize that instead of asking, “How long will it take to achieve?,” we need to ponder, “I wonder how far down the road I can get in this lifetime?” This outlook transforms our life into an unfolding adventure of purpose and possibilities. Success then is not merely about money or past accomplishments. Success becomes a compass and an engine that keeps us moving forward and enjoying the journey.
Success as Maximizing Potential
John Wooden was one of the best coaches of all time in any sport. He led the UCLA Bruin’s men’s basketball team to an unprecedented 10 national championships over a twelve year period including a run of seven consecutive years.
Wooden’s genius as a coach and teacher is found in his definition of success:
"Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best you are capable of becoming."
Amazingly, Wooden never talked about winning games or championships. In his mind, if his players worked harder on themselves than on winning games, success took care of itself. He focused his practices not on beating the opposition but on the development of the skills, teamwork, and character of his players.
One of Wooden's other maxims was “Make each day your masterpiece.” Wooden knew that there will be challenges and that sometimes our best will simply mean that we climbed out of bed and went to work. But regardless of the circumstances of the moment, success is found in giving all that we can muster.
How would you live differently if your goal each day was simply to make your best effort in growing toward your potential? Imagine the satisfaction and fulfillment that comes from realizing that life is about growing into the person you were created uniquely to be. There is no competition with others. Instead of competing, try to view head to head challenges as opportunities to assess current progress rather than in terms of winning and losing. The only true loser is the one who gives up or doesn’t try their best. In fact, reread Wooden’s definition and observe that you could potentially win and still not be successful because you gave less than your best.
Which definition of success do you most gravitate to? Why?
What is your big dream?
Who is God calling you to become?
How will you take the first baby steps today on your journey of success?
What can you do or learn today to create a slightly better version of yourself than you were yesterday?
© 2019 Brian D. Russell