Home » When you need inspiration » Success: What It Isn’t

Success: What It Isn’t

 

The problem for most people who want to be successful is not that they can’t do it. The main obstacle for them is that they misunderstand success. Maltbie D. Babcock said, “One of the most common mistakes and one of the costliest is thinking that success is due to some genius, some magic, something or other which we do not possess.”

If that’s not right, then what DOES it mean to be a success? What does it look like? First, let’s talk about what it DOESN’T look like:

Many of us have a wrong picture of success. Frankly, the majority of people misunderstand it. They wrongly equate it with achievement of some sort, with arriving at a destination or attaining a goal. Here are several of the most common misconceptions about success:

1. Wealth: Probably the most common misunderstanding about success is that it’s the same as having money. A lot of people believe that if they accumulate wealth, they’ll be successful. But wealth does not bring contentment – or success.

Industrialist John D. Rockefeller, a man so rich that he gave away over $350 million in his lifetime, was once asked how much money it would take to satisfy him. His reply: “Just a little bit more.” King Solomon of ancient Israel, said to be not only the wisest but also the richest man who ever lived, said, “Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income.” (Ecclesiastes 5:10).

Even Greek millionaire Aristotle Onassis recognized that money isn’t the same as success. He said, “After you reach a certain point, money becomes unimportant. What matters is success.”

2. A Special Feeling. Another common misconception is that people have achieved success when they feel successful or happy. But trying to feel successful is probably even more difficult than trying to become wealthy.

The continual search for happiness is one of the main reasons that so many people are miserable. If you make happiness your goal, you are almost certainly destined to fail. You will be on a continual roller coaster, changing from “successful” to “unsuccessful” with every mood change. Life is uncertain, and emotions aren’t stable. Happiness simply cannot be relied upon as a measure of success.

3. Possessing Something Specific and Worthwhile. Think back to when you were a kid. Chances are that there was a time when you wanted something really bad, and you believed that if you possessed that thing, it would make a significant difference in your life. When I was nine years old, it was a red and silver Schwinn bicycle. Back then, the thing to do in our neighborhood was to race around on our bikes.

But I was riding an old hand-me-down bicycle, and I had trouble keeping up with the kids on newer bikes. But I figured that if I had that new Schwinn bike, I’d have it made. I’d have the newest, fastest, best-looking bike among all my friends, and I’d make them all eat my dust.

On Christmas morning, I got my wish. And for a while it was great. I loved that bike, and I spent a lot of time riding it. But I eventually discovered that it didn’t bring me the success or long-term contentment that I’d hoped for and expected.

That process has repeated itself in my life. Over the years, I found that success didn’t come as the result of possessing something I’d wanted. Possessions are at best a temporary fix. Success cannot be attained or measured that way.

4.  Power. Charles McElroy once joked, “Power is usually recognized as an excellent short-term anti-depressant.” There’s a lot of truth to that statement, because power often gives the appearance of success, but even then, it’s only temporary.

You’ve probably heard before the quote from English historian, Lord Acton: “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Abraham Lincoln echoed that belief when he said, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Power really is a test of character. In the hands of a person of integrity, it is of great benefit; in the hands of a tyrant, it causes terrible destruction. By itself, power is neither positive or negative. Nor is it the source of security or success. Besides, all dictators eventually lose power – even benevolent ones.

5.  Achievement. Many people have what I call “destination disease.” They believe that if they can arrive somewhere – attain a position, accomplish a goal, or have a relationship with the right person – they will be successful. At one time, I had a similar view of success: I defined it as the progressive realization of a predetermined worthwhile goal. But over time I realized that definition fell short of the mark.

Simply achieving goals doesn’t guarantee success or contentment. Look at what happened with Michael Jordan. In 1993, he decided to retire from basketball, saying that he had accomplished all the goals he had wanted to achieve. And then he went on to play baseball in the minor leagues – but not for long. He couldn’t stay away from the game of basketball. He played again from 1995 to 1999. Then he retired again – for a couple seasons. He played his final seasons 2001-2003. Playing the game was the thing. Being in the midst of the process. You see, success isn’t a list of goals to be checked off one after another. It’s not reaching a destination. Success is a journey.

My thoughts

This post is something that John Maxwell put together and I thought I should share it with you. It really is something to think about. What is success to you?

Advertisements

27 thoughts on “Success: What It Isn’t

  1. I like the valuable info you provide in your articles. I will bookmark your blog and check again here frequently. I am quite certain I will learn many new stuff right here! Good luck for the next!

  2. Undeniably believe that which you said. Your favorite justification seemed to be on the web the easiest thing to be aware of. I say to you, I definitely get annoyed while people think about worries that they plainly don’t know about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top as well as defined out the whole thing without having side-effects , people can take a signal. Will likely be back to get more. Thanks

  3. Hi there, You’ve done an incredible job. I will definitely digg it and personally suggest to my friends. I am confident they will be benefited from this web site.

  4. Excellent post. I was checking continuously this blog and I’m impressed! Very helpful info specifically the last part 🙂 I care for such info a lot. I was looking for this certain info for a long time. Thank you and best of luck.

  5. I am also commenting to let you understand of the superb encounter our princess gained checking yuor web blog. She came to find plenty of pieces, including what it’s like to possess an excellent teaching heart to get the others effortlessly fully understand chosen very confusing subject areas. You truly did more than my desires. I appreciate you for distributing such practical, trusted, explanatory not to mention cool tips about your topic to Ethel.

  6. Excellent post. I was checking continuously this blog and I am impressed! Extremely useful info particularly the last part 🙂 I care for such information a lot. I was looking for this certain information for a long time. Thank you and good luck.

  7. I like the valuable information you provide in your articles. I’ll bookmark your blog and check again here regularly. I am quite certain I will learn plenty of new stuff right here! Best of luck for the next!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s