Success – all in a definition

I’ve been thinking a lot about success. What is success? According to the 10th edition of the Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, success is defined as such:

Noun (1557)

(1) outcome; result

(2) a. degree or measurement of succeeding

b. favorable or desired outcome, also: the attainment of wealth, favor, or eminence

c. one that succeeds

So now we have a literal definition of success. Not surprisingly, little has changed in the world since 1557 and we see that success is measured by an attainment of wealth, favor, or eminence or, in other words, money and power.

But…what determines what makes us successful or not? Is it solely defined by the acquisition of money and power as the Merriam Webster’s Dictionary tells us. Let’s explore that.

Our society tells us that people whom have a lot of money and/or a lot of power are successful. But, does one need a skill to make a lot of money and/or acquire power? One look at day time TV or your local magazine rack may suggest otherwise. Sure, some individuals who might be defined as successful are very wealthy and have a lot of control based upon their success from immense talents, whether innate or polished. So let’s say…PUSH!

Maybe another way to look at success is outside the scope of mere money and power. Maybe it can’t even be defined by one thing. Here are some points of discussion to ponder:

1. Wealth doesn’t have to be defined only in dollar bills. Wealth can be measured in knowledge.

2. Earning respect can have real power. Working to earn people’s respect through treating others with common courtesy, exhibiting integrity and honesty, showing mercy, and learning to forgive show cases virtue and righteousness. This causes individuals to admire and hold in high regard people who exhibit these qualities. It provides good standing through character building qualities.

3. Are we good caretakers to our families and ourselves? If our roles are to provide and/or teach in our family, do we perform these effectively?

4. Similar to number 2, do we inspire people? Not only through the qualities described, but do we work to better our communities and our society?

It is possible that we can be rich and still have little money. When attending a funeral, I am always intrigued by the number of people who show up to honor the deceased. You will often find that individuals will show up from all different walks of the deceased’s life. Often times, people who know other members of the family, but perhaps didn’t know the deceased well, will make an appearance to show their respects to the family.

And, maybe that is the whole key to success. Maybe taking a look at our life in retrospect during our death really shows our successes.  Our successes can be measured by the decisions we made in our lives that subsequently touched and affected others’ lives. Touching those people’s lives and helping shape them as individuals is real wealth and power. We can’t take money with us when we perish nor do we hold any power because these items are fleeting in death. But the way we have affected others during our lifetime, is not fleeting. This lives on and our memory lives on through the individuals  we have affected as indicated by the variety and number of individuals who come to honor us.

Merriam Webster’s Dictionary is thought to be the authority on the definitions of words but perhaps the definition of success isn’t so cut and dry as Merriam makes it out to be.


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