A Definition of Success
Definition of Success
How do we know we have achieved success? We seek for it, strive for it, make goals in hopes of attaining success- but how do we know we have achieved that which we seek? Is it a certain level of money in our bank accounts? Is it primarily an internal feeling or sensation that we are after? These can be worthwhile criteria and a worthwhile objective- but is that all there is? If success were simply the achievement of a particular goal, then the measurement of success would be easy. Once we achieved the goal, we could then say we were successful. However, what if our goals are different than someone else’s- does that make them more or less successful than we are? If success is simply a feeling, a sensation we feel when we win or achieve a goal, then what happens if we no longer feel that sensation- are we no longer successful? What else would we have to do after that to maintain or retrieve that sensational feeling? If it is simply a sensation, what if we become desensitized to the feeling and we need to have more and more of the stimulus in order to feel successful?
A proper definition of success should encompass all the various aspects of life in order to make sense. We can certainly use one set of criteria to judge our level of success in a particular area of our life- but then we would very well need a separate set of criteria to ascertain if we are successful in another area of our life. While this is not inappropriate, there is a better way to view the matter. The achievement of a goal certainly leads to the feeling of successful achievement but what about the integral and important journey involved in that fulfillment? If we are only successful once we achieve a pre-described goal, then we spend most of our time being unsuccessful. Conversely, if we make the definition of success too easy, doesn’t that then make it less meaningful? A definition of success should be something that is meaningful to us and encompasses both the objective side of our life as well as the subjective, more emotional facets of our being.
A good definition of success is doing your best at every point, in every area of your life. Initially, this may sound a bit trite or simplistic. However, if followed through to its logical end, it is one of the most powerful forces for success and for judging each individual’s level of success that there can be. This definition of success allows us to both constantly move forward towards improvement as well as recognizing the level to which we have attained success in the present moment. This definition requires us to examine each facet of our lives and yet is achievable by all who seek to succeed. It takes into account that success and achievement is a multifaceted, ongoing journey that may well change as we change. It also allows for the varying degrees of individuality that are always present. Ultimately, while we use competition to sharpen our skills, we only truly compete against ourselves and our ability to learn, adapt and improve. We are really only accountable to ourselves to have put forth the very best effort that we are capable of at that particular period of time.
If we utilize this definition then we have to look at each role we play in life as well as our most internal core set of beliefs, attitudes and personality. We must address our thoughts as well as our actions, our intents as well as our deeds. It requires that we act and think with the highest level of thought and the highest level of action of which we are capable. This in itself may seem somewhat daunting, but the end result will take us farther than any other method and create such a feeling of well being that cannot be easily and reliably matched. It requires that we look at ourselves every day for it is day by day that we make improvements in our skill level in all facets of our existence. It is the minor improvements that build up and work synergistically with the other improvements over time that catapult us into excellence in any field or endeavor.
The roles we take on in life are such things as employer, employee, partner, spouse, parent, friends, etc… These are all roles to which we cast ourselves; they are parts that we play in our life. We invest these roles with beliefs, our personalities, our values, all parts of ourselves. We may in some ways, act differently as a parent than we do as an employer, but there is a core part of us that remains the same- that part of us that is our core self. Doing our best requires us to examine each skill set that is required for each role as well as the core parts of us such as our thoughts and beliefs.
Doing our best in terms of skill sets, requires that we investigate and examine each skill that we utilize in each role that we play in life. In other words, look at everything that you are required to do in each area of your life and then break down each action into individual skills. If you break this down enough, you will be able isolate each component of each skill and will therefore be able to practice each component. As we become increasingly more proficient with each piece of the action, combining each piece to flow smoothly with the other pieces, then we will raise our skill level handsomely. Do this on a constant basis, reviewing your performance in each area of your life and you will find yourself constantly improving. Each level of proficiency that you become aware of becomes the benchmark, the standard by which you can tell how much or how little you are improving.
Doing our best regarding our thoughts reaches into our core being. Our thoughts are informed by our inward beliefs and perspectives, some of which are transparent to us, but some are also determined by our assessment of outward activities or events. Doing our best in regards to our thoughts, requires that we think the highest and best, most truthful thoughts at all times. This is indeed a tall order! But we can achieve this if we work on it day by day. Some days, we will be more successful at it than others, but on the average, we can term ourselves to be a success as long as we are moving in a direction that allows us to always better ourselves. How do we know if we are thinking the highest and best thoughts? How do we know that we are thinking the most correct or most skillful thoughts that we can? Look to see that we are being truthful, accurate, and kind. Ask ourselves if we have a realistic appraisal of the situation? How do we know? Proper discernment requires a deep awareness of our internal thought processes as well as a correct survey of the circumstance. It requires that we look each situation in the face and not shirk from the truth. This can be much more difficult to practice than one might think. Doing our best requires that we look deeply into our selves and into the situations in which we find ourselves. It requires that do not take for granted our present circumstances and that we have an appreciation of all that happened to get us to this point in each area of our lives.
By doing so, we will value our life more, our contributions and the contributions of others more dearly. We may come to the realization that many more people helped get us to where we are than we first thought possible. Remember that everything affects everything else- many things have happened that have caused us to arrive at this present situation and more events and people will help us achieve the next level. Doing our best regarding our thoughts means that we are realistically positive, that we look for the best in others and that we value and respect our selves as well as others. This increased proficiency with our thoughts will lead naturally to an increased proficiency with our words. We will speak more clearly, more kindly.
In speaking with others, we will strive to increase the effectiveness of our communication. Doing our best with our words, not only means that we speak kindly and compassionately, but that we speak intelligently and clearly. We increase our vocabulary, not to appear pretentious but in order to communicate our ideas more effectively. The greater ability we have in which to process information, be it internally and externally, the greater ability we will have to understand and practice correct discernment. By doing our best in communicating with others, we learn not only to think more correctly and speak more proficiently; we also learn to listen more effectively. Listening is a critical part of communication. It is part of the communication cycle that can be the most difficult to master or even to remember, but its value cannot be underestimated. Judge your success by how well you communicate and by how well you listen.
The third piece brings us back to our deeds- as we do our best to think correct thoughts, conduct right speech, speak with effective communication we then also must practice right action. Each action that we perform can be performed to the best of our ability at that given time. The interesting thing about this is that we can always improve. The very best that we can do today, is not necessarily the very best that can do tomorrow or next month. We can have a plan of constant improvement that allows us to feel good every day about who we are and how we are and still allows us to get better and better each day. Doing our best means just that- we do our best. Perfection in a practical sense does not exist- we can always improve. I have a saying that states: perfect practice produces perfect results. The key to this maxim is practice correctly the action you wish to perfect. Should you practice something incorrectly, you simply learn to do a thing incorrectly. However, we must also understand that we constantly improve by our practice. We may start out performing quite poorly at something but our vision and our practice leads us to the betterment of both ourselves and our actions. We become better and better by desiring to be better and practicing to be better every day.
Doing our best each and every day will cause us to constantly improve. The very act of doing our best will cause us to hold our head high and know internally that we are successful. Defining our success by the number of wins and losses or the size of our bank account will always put us at odds with some one else. Defining our success by our ability to fulfill our own innate potential is a far more encompassing and challenging perspective. In calculating our wins and losses we do not need to take into account the type of person we become. In defining our success by doing and the being the best we can be, we cannot escape it. And in doing so, we are a light, a beacon to others so that they may be encouraged to strive to be their best. In the end, we stretch the limits of what we thought our potential would be, not just for ourselves but for everyone else as well. Do you best and you will live life with a clear conscious. Do not do your best and even though the numbers may look impressive, deep down, you will feel unfulfilled. So…do your best always!
Jeff White 4/17/2010
Published: June 11, 2022