What is the True Meaning of Success?

Source: Danny Kennedy Fitness

By Kevin Cameron

Throughout my educational career and mainly since the start of this school year, the words success or successful have been the topic of many family conversations. I am constantly told that I am on the path to becoming successful, but what does that really mean? What does success mean? Is being successful based on having a meaningful life or giving back to society. Is it about having the largest paycheck or retiring before forty?

The talk of success has expanded from conversations with my parents to a common conversation around the lunch table. Three people at the table came to a common understanding of success. Their definition can be summarized into one word, materialistic. It was all about the high salaries, fast cars, larges homes, and vacations. Their understanding of success is very close to the life of the one percent and the rich and famous. A few others at the table didn’t have that same definition. One brought up the point that if you win the lottery you aren’t very successful, but you can have a fast car, an amazing house, and go on countless vacations. She believed that success is directly correlated with happiness. She said that when you are successful you can do things that you are passionate about. However, one question tore her definition apart. Are all of those that are successful considered happy? Successful people aren’t guaranteed happiness; therefore, we removed it from the qualifications of success. Other than money we started to become hard-pressed to find the meaning of success.

I checked a few different dictionaries to see if there was a single definition of success and I was surprised to see that there are a few common themes. One of the best definitions that I found was from Dictionary.com. This website defined success in a few simple sentences. The first definition is that success is the accomplishment of goals. The second definition says that success is having the most possessions and a high net worth. The third definition says that success is the number of awards received throughout a life time. The definition of success from the Oxford Dictionary is very similar: the first definition is having a purpose, the second definition is having worth, and the third definition is achieving goals. To be fully successful by these definitions, I should have the goal of receiving the Nobel peace prize and achieving it.

I am not like the average Bryant student, my idea of success is not the mainstream one. I do not base success purely on the salary someone is receiving for their work. Personally, I would love to have a meaningful life and work with the Olympic committee. I grew up in a very competitive family and the Olympic games are the epitome of competition. The idea of having some control over the Olympics makes me giddy. I would love to have a voice in the location of the games, designing the logo, or even assisting in the marketing plan. I understand that this comes with two issues. The first issue that I would run into is that most of the positions for the committee are voluntary. How successful can I be if my dream job does not come with a salary? As well as not receiving a salary, I will not be receiving any awards for the work that I complete. Does this mean that I cannot be successful because I only check off one of the three boxes?