Thursday, November 22, 2007

What Is Success?

suc·cess (sək-sěs')
  1. The achievement of something desired, planned, or attempted: attributed their success in business to hard work.
    1. The gaining of fame or prosperity: an artist spoiled by success.
    2. The extent of such gain.
  2. One that is successful: The plan was a success.
Do you feel successful? How do you measure it? Is it short-term or long-term success? Are you fulfilling your potential? Do you have a sense of purpose?

These are the sorts of questions that bother me constantly. My library of books on the subject is rather extensive. A sampling of some of my favorites includes: Finding Your Own North Star, The Success Principles, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Unlimited Power, and Live the Life You Love.

One of the better exercises that I've found lately was Steve Pavlina's How to discover your life purpose in about 20 minutes. It didn't take me 20 minutes, and it wasn't much of a surprise. The only surprise might be to people who know me but don't really know me.

But with my rather extensive knowledge of success literature, do I feel successful? No, not really. I feel rather proficient at short-term results but have not achieved long-term goals. I have what achieved what Martha Beck would say is success on my social self's terms, not my essential self.

What have you achieved that you valued most in this life? What have you put energy into that seems wasted?

If you want an example of why it's important to seek your dreams, and not waste your time, watch this "last lecture" from Randy Pausch.


  1. Lol, as a sociologist and a leftist, I'd be interested to see what kind of responses you'd get if you posted this message in the comment boxes of other left blogs!

  2. That sounds vaguely like you are trying to be inflammatory, yet you didn't say exactly what bothered you so it is difficult for me to ascertain your issue. Did you think that I was advocating material success as the proper measure? Actually, no I wasn't. This post was prompted after pouncing on Scott Adam's comparison of cube dwellers and musicians - as though salary, benefits and security were the only measures of career happiness. Personally I'm an advocate for following your bliss/purpose. It's just hard sometimes.

    However, since my life's purpose is to make other's laugh I have the satisfaction of knowing I made you laugh out loud - no matter how wry that laugh may have been.

    Thanks for coming by. :)