Defining Success In Your Own Terms

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Some years ago while I was an undergraduate, I listened to a sermon in my school fellowship. I couldn’t remember much about all that the preacher said, but he made a statement that I couldn’t forget till today. The statement says, “Money is the contextual driving force of most human actions in the world today.” I guess the reason why that statement stuck is because I wholeheartedly agree with the preacher. The world right from the time of antiquity always have a standard for success, though the standard varies according to what society consider important at certain era. The society we currently live have a standard of what success is. If you ask the average person to define who a successful person is, chances are that their definition or description will be laced with abundant money, status, fame and material possession with little or no regard for purpose fulfillment. If anyone can go to school, get good grades, get a good job, start a family, climb the corporate ladder and do all the popular stuff that the society expects of the average man, such individual would be pat on the back by the majority as purposeful. In respect to the aforementioned, if in your lifetime you fail to live up to these expectations, you are considered a failure. One thing I want you to know is that, the society is not always right. What is Your Definition of Success? Once, a very rich businessmen and industrialist visited a river bank and met a fisherman resting under a tree at about mid-day, after making some catch. The rich man felt bad that the fisherman was lazy instead of going back to work. So our rich friend asked the fisherman why he was resting instead of going back quickly to his boat and making more catch for more money. The fisherman answered: “after catching more fishes and making more money, what will I do next?”. The rich man replied: “you will then rest and enjoy your money”. “What do you think I am doing”, the fisherman asked rhetorically. At this point the rich man became speechless. Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs succinctly helps define what success means to a person at one point in time or the other which is constantly changing. You see? Success means different things to different people depending on their individual ideology, priority, desire, needs, stage in life, conditions, lacks, education, economic status, position and motivation among other immediate and remote factors.

A university in America had to close the gate to a prayer tower it built for her undergraduates to reflect and pray more intimately to God shortly after it was built. Why because it had become a suicide destination where students burdened with the anxiety of meeting the high academic expectation of their parents climbed to fall to their deaths.

Today, a lot of self-styled motivational speakers have engendered the fear, confusion, and anxiety of many by promoting material possessions worth in monetary terms and even super-competition among people as the definition of success thus leaving many feeling like underachievers, failures and misfits.

You must learn to define success in your own terms and not necessary by public trend or motivational speakers or even by the perception of those you look up to if they don’t align with your conviction or situation. The achievement of a man is not measured by where he is in life but the difference between where he is and where he is coming from. It’s unfair to compare the success of a middle class professional who is a Neuro Surgeon that rose from the nothing of a slum and that of a billionaire who came from a millionaire background or even a middle income family. It’s unfair to create a single standard of definition for success. It’s okay to compare oneself with people of greater achievement in order to get inspired to achieve greater things in life but not to the extent of counting yourself a failure for not meeting up with your target and other people’s attention despite giving your humanly best. Life is meant to be enjoyed and too short to be endured in pains and frustration for soon the green leaves wither. The Jonesses are not the definition of success but your happiness. Marriage is success to those it brings happiness and personal fulfillment. Coming first is success to those whose happiness it brings. There is no competition in destiny just like two parallel lines don’t meet. Look at them to motivate yourself not to compare or look down on yourself or others.

Feeling sad because you can’t achieve what they have achieved is cheating yourself. Stop denying yourself happiness. Take a look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself what will make you happy to achieve at this stage of your career, time in your life and situation of things. Be mindful of the fact that the road to success is never a straight line like the world and some successful people will dishonestly tell you by their stories. Hard work is key to success but not all it takes. Sometimes people succeed because they happened to be in the right places at the right time without having an idea of what will come their way.

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Many have worked themselves to untimely deaths and exhausted their energies earning at the expense of the other cardinal points of their lives such as family, health, rest, society and their spiritual wellbeing.

Don’t be part of the statistics or one of the one-in-ten-people who die of worries. Truth is that more than 90% of our worries, fears, and frustration are just not worth it and not real at all but a monster created in the mind due to a need to impress people who may not even care about us. What is success literally? I have read different definitions of success, but all dictionary definitions can be narrowed down to the attainment of one’s goal. One writer I so much value his definition of success is Napoleon Hill, the author of the classic “Think and grow rich.”

Napoleon defines success as “a progressive realization of a worthwhile goal.” True success requires having a goal in mind which you intend to reach. It shouldn’t be just any goal; it should be a goal that would have positive impact upon your own life and the lives of others. Furthermore, it must require you to take some steps in order to achieve it. If you have achieved personal goals that meet these parameters, you are a success regardless of what the society expects of you or how they want you to live your life. The pressure to live up to societal standard has pushed so many individuals into businesses and career that doesn’t align with their Purpose. Some who didn’t have the opportunity to achieve the societal kind of success often succumb to crimes such as armed robbery, child trafficking, drugs, ritual killings, cyber-crime and many more. People in the latter category don’t care about the effect of their action on others. All they want is to achieve the societal kind of success at any cost.

Ultimately, true success is defined not in terms of living up to societal expectations, or following your own dream, true success is determined by the extent to which you live up to the purpose of God for your life.

A lot of people have failed to realize the fact that success cannot be define in a single way. True success is achievement measured against purpose. Success must be defined in relation to purpose. The purpose of a Ferrari is speed. If it becomes slower, then it is not successful. A bomber jet will fly even when there is storm, because the purpose of the jet is to fight in any weather. But a commercial plane will withdraw from storm because it is not its purpose. If you do not know the purpose of a man, you cannot tell if he is successful or not. True success is not just succeeding in a way that corresponds to societal standard; true success is fulfilling God’s purpose for your life. It is not enough to have dreams and set goals, you must know why.

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