What is Success and how do we Know When we have Obtained it?

Many times, we as people, misunderstand success thinking it is looking at persons who have achieved a certain status, or position in life, and in doing so, have obtained a certain amount of wealth, possessions, or power in life. When defined this way, we look at success as an external thing, different from who we are. We often compare ourselves to others in this realm in determining whether we are successful people and we feel we fall short or have failed when we measure ourselves against another who we think has arrived in being successful.

Often people find themselves as gurus, following after persons, teachings, or reading famous authors books in order to obtain what we think they have in regards to success.
Measuring ourselves in this way undermines our own worth, dismisses the use of our own gifts, and directs us in a pattern of trying to obtain character traits these persons have, for we think in our minds, if I become like them, I will have success. There is nothing wrong with admiring one for their use of talents, traits, and characteristics, but we cannot be like another person, we can only be poor imitators of these persons, and in doing so, we will fail in living to fulfill our own destiny. We will also have an underlying frustration and inner restlessness in the striving after being like someone else.

This striving after what we think is success as defined in our own minds, eliminates the possibility of becoming the person we were meant to be. This striving towards achievements in arriving at some sort of destination or goal also falls short of what it means to be successful.

This idea success is about money, is a myth as wealth does not bring contentment, and if you speak to those who have accumulated it, you will discover they feel a lacking in their life. Another misconception of success is that it brings happiness. We often think when one has arrived in obtaining certain achievements, having gained monetary excess, and have a position of authority or status in life, we think, those things will certainly bring a feeling of success.

Those who search after happiness as a measure of success become stuck in a cycle of attaining success, then becoming unsuccessful, then becoming miserable in their unending search to be happy, because happiness as a state is fleeting and temporary, and achievements become empty shells. The state of happiness cannot be relied on as a measure of success due to the ever-changing emotions and moods one goes through, as they do not sustain any stability.

Life becomes more like a roller coaster, tossing us in the ever-changing waves of moods and emotions. Our happiness then becomes dependent on our moods, which change depending on our circumstances, and we become unstable in relying on emotions to determine any of measure success.

When one defines success as determined by reaching goals, a goal-oriented life becomes one of striving after achievements in thinking when they have arrived at some magical destination in life by accomplishing their goals, they discover dissatisfaction, a lack of peace, and a lack of any sort of happiness. They continually go from one goal to the next in their ever increasing search to arrive at a place they feel will finally give them this lasting satisfaction and fulfillment they think will be found in obtaining their goals. Success is not found in checking off one goal after another in life.

Achievements, collecting stuff, obtaining wealth, having positions of authority, obtaining power in arriving at some sort of perceived higher status, only provide temporary fixes, and fail to maintain long-term satisfaction. Some think if they have a certain position in life, then one will have power to do what they want and live how they want. Abraham Lincoln said: “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Power, in the hands of a person having integrity, is a great benefit; in the hands of a tyrant, it causes a pattern of destruction. So, having power is not a source of success, nor does it bring any security in a persons’ life.

Success is none of the above. Success is a journey in life. I read a definition of success that I like and will share it with you.

“Success is knowing your purpose in life, growing to reach your maximum potential, and sowing seeds that benefit others.” Two things are required in order to determine being successful in this journey; the right attitude and applying the right principles. (John Maxwell)

It is my belief that God created every person for purposes He designed them to fulfill. Victor Frankl, a psychologist stated, “Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life. Everyone must carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated. Thus, everyone’s task is as unique as his specific opportunity to implement it.”

So, as each of us have a purpose(s) for which we were created, our responsibility then becomes to identify these and to walk in them. It will be when we do this our greatest joy in life will become fulfilled with meaning as we walk in our purpose in life. An inner satisfaction and peace will then reside in the deepest core of our inner being.

Success them becomes redefined as a result of taking opportunities that come our way in dedicating our time in growing, changing, and making personal adaptations in the midst of life challenges, that we will be reaching towards fulfilling our potential purposes in this life, and being successful.

Our potential is only limited by the steps we take or fail to take in life. Reaching our potential is an onward climb in a continual pattern of learning, applying our learning, stretching ourselves towards making progressive improvements in our inner person, and moving towards a life of increasing growth.

Our journey then becomes one of a life-long pursuit of growth that brings maturity, wisdom, and as we age, we become sages in our ability to mentor and help others in reaching their God-given purposes in life, thus passing on what we have learned in the experiences of life, onto those younger than ourselves.

When our journey is one of a continual pattern of making improvements, growing as a person in reaching our maximum potential, we also discover an important part of this discovery is that the higher road is found in helping others along the way. It has been said we make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.

Albert Schweitzer said: “The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others.” His journey took him to Africa where he found meaning and fulfillment in serving people for many years.

As a Christian-women, I take my guidance and direction in discovering the purposes God has ordained for me to walk in, and when I do so, it is then I find lasting meaning, purpose and satisfaction. I have discovered when walking the path of Faith, daily practicing my spiritual disciplines, making the most of the opportunities that lie in front of me in helping those I encounter, my life is filled in overflowing measures with an internal contentment, peace, and joy.

Then each day becomes one of centering myself in the Fullness of the Holy Spirit who becomes my guide, who shines the light of Christ in those ways I should be, inside and out.

I then discover I feel Completed beyond anything this world can offer me.  I discover an honesty before my God and an honesty before others, allowing me to walk in an authenticity of who I was meant to be.

Then my journey in this life becomes filled with success as determined by reaching towards finding meaning and purpose in serving others in walking in those paths God leads me in, and allowing His Holiness to be the preemptive facet residing in my heart, radically transforming my human heart of stone into God’s Heart of Compassionate Love.


Lorraine Taylor – Lay Minister


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