Classical Definition of Success
Success is defined as “an accomplishment of an aim or purpose.” That sounds pretty clear cut, but also quite narrow to me. If that was all that was considered a success in life, I would have a lot more failures to check off on my list of goals than I do now.
Success on a More Practice Level
To me, success is doing the best that I can in the moment. Whether I technically succeed or fail in the task is not my measure. If I do succeed in the task, great! If I don’t, I first ask, did I do my best to prepare and carry out the task? If I can answer yes to this, even if I technically failed at it, I consider myself to have succeeded. Carry that one step further, if I can learn from that “failure,” I’ve made the most of the learning moment this opportunity has provided and have paved my way for future successes!
Let’s Face it, Life Can Be Hard
Life can throw some real whoppers our way. Whether an incredibly challenging class, a lot of challenges at once, or an overwhelming dilemma, life isn’t always a bowl of cherries. Having a strict, black and white definition of success really doesn’t do us any good. In fact, it can do us some harm. If we are constantly using the classical definition as our yardstick to measure success, it can really chip away at our self-esteem. Who needs that?
Now I’m not someone that is all for giving everyone a medal. I think that’s a whole different discussion based on measuring success extrinsically. What I’m talking about is measuring success intrinsically. In other words, with each task completed, I look inward and asking myself if I’ve done my best. If the answer is yes, even though the actual end result is a #fail, then to me I’ve succeeded. All the world can ask of us and us of ourselves is whether we have done our best. If we can step back, objectively analyze the situation and say we’ve done our best in the moment, we’ve succeeded in my book.
Perfect vs. Best In the Moment
Let me make one more clarification, I’m also not talking about our “perfect” performance, but rather our best in the moment. For example, there are times when we may have known all the answers to a test. In the moment however, we may not get them all correct. Perhaps our nerves got the best of us, the question was a bit skewed, etc… Whatever the case, as long as how we performed in the moment is the best we could have done given our full effort toward preparation, then I feel we’ve succeeded.
Where my growth and learnings come is here:
- If I have classically succeeded, I have learned that the method of preparation that I used perhaps can be replicated in other scenarios just as successfully.
- If I have not classically succeeded, but have otherwise succeeded, similarly, perhaps my methods can be replicated and the areas that I can improve upon can be noted for further enhancement the next time around.
- If I have not classically succeeded and also have technically failed, it’s time to look a bit inward. Did I put enough time into preparing for the task as I should have? Did I let distractions interfere with my performance? Was this task simply over my head. Whatever the answer is to these questions and more, there’s something always to be gained from analyzing both our successes and failures. In fact, oftentimes it’s our failures that we learn the most from.
A few great quotes come to mind here as we wrap this up:
“I have not failed: I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” (Thomas A. Edison).
I’d rather attempt to do something great and fail then to attempt to do nothing and succeed.” (Robert H. Schuller).
In order to succeed you must fail, so that you know what not to do the next time (Anthony J. D’Angelo).
Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts (Winston Churchill).
Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up (Thomas A. Edison).
And… finally, one area where you will always succeed is in checking out these great deals!