The Definition of Success

Almost everyone I know, or can think of, wants the same thing: Success. How about you? Could anyone not want to be successful? Well, there’s been a lot written on the subject over the years, including some useful quotes:

  • Woody Allen opinioned that “Eighty percent of success is showing up.”
  • The oft-quoted William Feather said that “Success seems to be largely a matter of hanging on after others have let go.”
  • Someone else once said “The road to success is always under construction.”
  • And Vince Lombardi, the immortal coach of the Green Bay Packers, noted that “The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will.”


Everyone has his or her own ideas about what success looks like. Success is individual and unique to everyone, so can there be a single definition of success? Success is something that we all strive and work hard for, so wouldn’t it be great if we could have a single definition of success that works for each of us?

I’d like to offer up a “Definition of Success” that works for me that I use with my clients, and that I think can work for each of you as well. (This definition, and for that matter my entire blog today, is the product of the folks at Resource Associates Corporation, the human development research organization behind my company with which I have been delightfully affiliated for more than 7 years.)

The continual achievement of your own predetermined goals, stabilized by balance, and purified by belief.


Let’s examine the elements of this definition more closely:

  • Continual – Ongoing, steady, constant, uninterrupted. You can’t take a break from life or your pursuit of success, no matter your situation or circumstances.
  • Achievement – Fulfillment, accomplishment, attainment, feat. You must take action. Ben Franklin said that “Well done is better than well said.” Progress must be made; otherwise you’re just treading water, if not losing ground.
  • Your own – It must be unique to you. Other people may have opinions about what success should mean for you, but only you can determine what is truly right for you.
  • Predetermined – To define and decide or determine in advance, to have forethought. Plan to be successful; it’s not going to happen on a whim.
  • Goals – Destinations, ambition, aims, objectives, targets. Goals provide focus; otherwise, there is no direction. And make certain that you have SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistically high, and Time-based).
  • Balance – Address all aspects of your life (social, career / financial, family, mental, ethics and beliefs, and physical) in a comprehensive manner.
  • Belief – Self-confidence, commitment, faith, trust, certainty, conviction. Ezra Pound said that “What matters is not the idea a man holds, but the depth at which he holds it.” You have to believe in yourself … if you don’t, who will?


Does this “Definition of Success” work for you? Try it on for size and see if it can help you (personally and professionally) achieve more of what you want and become more of who you want to be!

“Success is getting what you want. Happiness is wanting what you get.”
– Dale Carnegie
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About pdncoach

A Go-Giver business coach working with leaders whose success depends on the performance and productivity of others. I coach individual leaders and their teams... in small to mid-size businesses, ministries and non-profits... to accelerate their results and achieve dreams by getting past the difficult, strategic challenges of their current realities.
This entry was posted in achievement, balance, belief, definition of success, goals. Bookmark the permalink.

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