DEFINITION OF SUCCESS AND 8 KEY FACTORS OF SUCCESS. DEFINITION: What makes a person successful? How do we recognize success? To some people, success might mean wealth. To others, it is recognition, good health, good family, happiness, satisfaction, and peace of mind. What this tells us is that success is subjective. It can mean different things to different people.

Definition of Success

  • The best definition for success is “Success is the progressive realization of a worthy goal”

Let’s look at these definitions carefully.

  •  “Progressive” means that success is a journey, not a destination. We never arrive. After we reach one goal, we go on to the next and the next and the next.
  •  “Realization” means it is an experience. Outside forces cannot make me feel successful. I have to feel it within myself. It is internal, not external.
  •  “Worthy” refers to our value system. Which way are we heading? Positive or negative? Worthiness determines the quality of the journey. That is what gives meaning and fulfillment. Success without fulfillment is empty.
  • “Goals” are important. Because they give us a sense of direction.



Why Goals are important?

  • In a study conducted on students in the 1979 Harvard MBA program, only three percent of the graduates had written goals and plans; 13 percent had goals, but they were not in writing, and 84 percent had set no goals at all.
  • Ten years later, the findings revealed that 13 percent of the class who had goals were earning up to 84 percent compared to those who had not set any.
  • For the three percent who defined their goals and wrote them down, they were earning on average, ten times as much as the other 97 percent put together.

Goal Setting:

  • Most People don’t know how to set goals.
  • Some set goals that are too general.
  • These are, in reality, fantasies common to everyone.
  • Goals, on the other hand, are clear, written, specific, and measurable.
  • Most people fear failure.

Failure hurts, but it is often necessary to experience failure to achieve the greatest success.

  • Do not unconsciously sabotage yourself by not setting any goals in which you might fail.
  • They fear rejection.
  • People are often afraid that if they are unsuccessful at achieving a goal, others will be critical of them.
  • This is remedied by keeping your goals to yourself at the outset; let others see your results and achievements once you’ve accomplished your goals.
  • Some goals are called away from goals.
  • These are usually framed in the negative.

Here are a few examples.

  1. I don’t want to smoke any more.
  2. I don’t want to be unfit
  3. I don’t want to be overweight
  4. I don’t want to be broke

Now let’s reframe them in the positive

  1. I am a nonsmoker
  2. I am fit and healthy
  3. I am at my ideal weight
  4. I can cover my bills

Notice the difference.

  • They are stated in the positive and take on the assumption that you have achieved it already.
  • By assuming “as if” your behavior changes so that you are acting like to have already achieved what you wanted to do.
  • What a great feeling to have even before you have got there.
  • It also bolsters your motivation.
  • So now we have determined if our goal is towards something, or away from something.

We have now stated it in the positive.

  • This however is still not a very well-detailed goal.
  • We will now look at how
  • we can make it more specific.
  • An ideal goal should be expressed in the positive, be time-bound, and be specific.
  • You may also like to consider, how will you know when you have achieved it, what will it feel like, what will the people around you be like? What will you do to celebrate it?

A goal must be time-bound.

  • When do I want to have achieved it?
  • If that’s when I want to achieve it, then when must I start?
  • What is the first step I need to take?
  • Who should I tell?
  • Should tell that person be the first step?
  • What skills or knowledge do I need to acquire along the way?
  • Goal size, is the goal too big to achieve?
  • If so then breaking it down into smaller bite-sized pieces may be the right approach.


1. Desire:

  • Success motivation comes from the burning desire to achieve a purpose.
  • Napoleon Hill wrote, “Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve.”

A young man asked Socrates the secret to success.

  • Socrates told the young man to meet him near the river the next morning.
  • They met.
  • Socrates asked the young man to walk with him toward the river.
  • When the water got up to their neck, Socrates took the young man by surprise and ducked him into the water.
  • The boy struggled to get out but Socrates was strong and kept him there until the boy started turning blue.
  • Socrates pulled his head out of the water and the first thing the young man did was to gasp and take a deep breath of air.
  • Socrates asked, ‘What did you want the most when you were there?” The boy replied, “Air.”

Socrates said, “That is the secret to success. When you want success as badly as you wanted the air, then you will get it.”

  • There is no other secret.
  • A burning desire is the starting point of all accomplishment.
  • Just like a small fire cannot give much heat, a weak desire cannot produce great results.

2. Commitment:

  • Integrity and wisdom are the two pillars on which to build and keep commitments.
  • This point is best illustrated by the manager, who told one of his staff members, “Integrity is keeping your commitment even if you lose money and wisdom is not to make such foolish commitments.”
  • Prosperity and success are the results of our thoughts and decisions.
  • It is our decision what thoughts will dominate our lives.

Success is not an accident. It is the result of our attitude.

  • There is a big difference between playing to win and playing not to lose.
  • When we play to win, we play with enthusiasm and commitment; whereas when we play not to lose, we are playing from a position of weakness.
  • When we play not to lose, we are playing to avoid failure.
  • We all want to win, but very few are prepared to pay the price to prepare to win.

Winners condition and commit themselves to win.

  • Playing to win comes out of inspiration, whereas playing not to lose comes out of desperation.
  • There are no ideal circumstances.
  • There will never be.
  • To reach anywhere we cannot just drift nor lie at anchor.
  • We need to sometimes sail with the wind and sometimes against it, but sail we must.
  • Ask any coach or athlete what the difference between the best and the worst team is.

There would be very little difference in their physique, talent, and ability.

  • The biggest difference you will find is an emotional difference.
  • The winning team has the dedication and they make the extra effort.
  • To a winner, the tougher the competition

3. Responsibility:

  • A duty that becomes a desire will ultimately become a delight. –George Gritter
  • People with character accept responsibilities.
  • They make decisions and determine their destiny in life.
  • Accepting responsibilities involves taking risks and being accountable which is sometimes uncomfortable.

Most people would rather stay in their comfort zone and live passive lives without accepting responsibilities.

  • They drift through life waiting for things to happen rather than making them happen.
  • Accepting responsibilities involves taking calculated, not foolish, risks.
  • It means evaluating all the pros and cons, then taking the most appropriate decision or action.
  • Responsible people don’t think that the world owes them a living.

4. Hard Work:

  • Success is not something that you run into by accident.
  • It takes a lot of preparation and character.
  • Everyone likes to win but how many are willing to put in the effort and time to prepare to win?
  • It takes sacrifice and self-discipline.
  • There is no substitute for hard work.
  • Henry Ford said, “The harder you work, the luckier you get.”

The world is full of willing workers, some willing to work and others willing to let them.

  • “I like to work half a day. I don’t care if it is the first 12 hours or the second 12 hours.” –Commons Wilson, CEO of Holiday Inn One cannot develop a capacity to do anything without hard work, just as a person cannot learn how to spell by sitting on a dictionary.
  • Professionals make things look easy because they have mastered the fundamentals of whatever they do.
  • “If people knew how hard I had to work to gain my mastery, it wouldn’t seem wonderful at all.” –Michaelangelo
  • An executive called a company to check on a potential candidate.
  • He asked the candidate’s supervisor, “How long has he worked for you?” The man replied, “Three days.”
  • The executive said.
  • “But he told me he was with you for three years.”
  • The man replied, “That is right, but he worked three days.”

5. Character:

  • Character is the total of a person’s values, beliefs, and personality.
  • It is reflected in our behavior, in our actions.
  • It needs to be preserved more than the richest jewel in the world.
  • To be a winner takes character.
  • George Washington said, “I hope I shall always possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most valuable of all titles, the character of an honest man.”
  • It is not the polls or public opinions but the character of the leader that determines the course of history.

There is no twilight zone in integrity.

  • The road to success has many pitfalls.
  • It takes a lot of character and effort not to fall into them.
  • It also takes character not to be disheartened by critics.

How come most people love success but hate successful people?

  • Whenever a person rises above average, there will always be someone trying to rip him apart.
  • Chances are pretty good when you see a person on top of a hill, that he just didn’t get there, but had to endure a tough climb.
  • It’s no different in life.
  • In any profession, a successful person will be envied by those who are not.

Don’t let criticism distract you from reaching your goal.

  • Average people play it safe to avoid criticism, which can be easily avoided by saying, doing, or being nothing.
  • The more you accomplish, the more you risk being criticized.
  • It seems there is a relationship between success and criticism.

The greater the success, the more is the criticism.

  • Critics have always been sitting at the sidelines.
  • They are underachievers who shout at doers, telling them how to do it right.
  • But remember critics are not the leaders or doers and it is worthwhile asking them to come down to where the action is.
  • “The critic knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.”

6. Positive Believing:

  • What is the difference between positive thinking and positive believing?
  • What if you could listen to your thoughts?
  • Are they positive or negative?
  • How are you programming your mind, for success or failure?
  • How you think has a profound effect on your performance.

Having a positive attitude and being motivated is a choice we make every morning.

  • Living a positive life is not easy, but then neither is negative living.
  • Given a choice, I would go for positive living.
  • Positive thinking is better than negative thinking and it will help us use our abilities to the fullest.
  • Positive believing is a lot more than positive thinking.
  • It is having a reason to believe that positive thinking will work.
  • Positive believing is an attitude of confidence that comes with preparation.
  • Having a positive attitude without making the effort is nothing more than having a wishful dream.
  • The following illustrates positive beliefs.

7. Give More Than You Get:

  • It is easy to succeed today.
  • We have no competition.
  • If you want to get ahead in life, go the extra mile.
  • There is no competition on the extra mile.

Are you willing to do a little more than you get paid for?

  • How many people you know are willing to do a little bit more than what they get paid for?
  • Hardly any.
  • Most people don’t want to do what they get paid for and there is a second category of people who only want to do what they can get by with.
  • They fulfill their quota just to keep their jobs.
  • There is a small fraction who are willing to do a little bit more than what they get paid for.
  • Why do they do more?
  • If you fall into the last category, then where is your competition?

The advantages of doing more than you get paid for are:

  1. You make yourself more valuable, regardless of what you do and where you work.
  2. It gives you more confidence.
  3. People start looking at you as a leader.
  4. Others start trusting you.
  5. Superiors start respecting you.
  6. It breeds loyalty from both your subordinates and your superiors.
  7. It generates cooperation.

8. The Power of Persistence:

  • Nothing will take the place of persistence.
  • Talent will not: Nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent.
  • Genius will not: Unrewarded genius is a proverb.
  • Education will not: The world is full of educated derelicts.
  • Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. –Calvin Coolidge
  • The journey to being your best is not easy.
  • It is full of setbacks.

Winners can overcome and bounce back with even greater resolve.

  • Fritz Kreisler, the great violinist, was once asked, “How do you play so well? Are you lucky?” He replied, “It is practice. If I don’t practice for a month, the audience can tell the difference. If I don’t practice for a week, my wife can tell the difference. If I don’t practice for a day, I can tell the difference.”

Persistence means commitment and determination.

  • There is pleasure in endurance.
  • Commitment and persistence is a decision.
  • Athletes put in years of practice for a few seconds or minutes of performance.

Persistence is a decision.

  • It is a commitment to finish what you start.
  • When we are exhausted, quitting looks good.
  • But winners endure.
  • Ask a winning athlete.
  • He endures pain and finishes what he started.

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