The Best Definition of Success!

A few nights ago, I was enjoying a dinner of sushi with three of my best friends.  We were having a spirited conversation when something I’d learned about 40 years ago came to mind.

My father left when I was eight years old.  Because of that and a few other dumb choices I’d made, I can honestly say that I was an “at risk kid” in my early teens.  I won’t bother you with the details, but I found myself with two completely different roads to choose from.

I was very lucky in that my mom worked for a company that built oil pipelines all over the world.  Her boss—the founder and CEO of the company, took an interest in me.  His name was W.K. Wilson.

Since I had no dad at home, when I got in trouble, I had to go to W.K.’s office and have ‘talks.’

W.K. was different.  He didn’t yell.  He talked to me as an adult.  He took the time to listen—really listen to a kid who was quite confused.

During our talks, he would feed me new thoughts and ideas.  We would talk about success and what it meant.  His whole office was filled with plaques and awards from local civic organizations.  He showed me what the term “Servant Leader” really meant.

He also began to loan me cassette tapes by a man named Earl Nightingale.  The series was called, “Lead the Field.”  They had been recorded back in the 1950’s and had truly revolutionized the field of personal growth.

These tapes changed my life!

One of the things I’ve always remembered was Earl’s definition of success:


This is the thought that I brought up to my friends over dinner.

When you look at that statement, it defines success as a process, not a destination.  Most people think that success is the attainment of something.  Examples could be a new car, a promotion, a certain dollar amount that you want to earn per year, a great marriage, etc.

But Earl’s definition is not a destination.  It is a journey.  And as long as you are on the journey, you are successful.

A couple of examples:

A worthy ideal could be to have a great marriage.  According to the definition above, as soon as you make up your mind to have a great marriage, and start taking actions to have one, you are a success.

Maybe you want to be physically fit.  As soon as you develop the habit of consistently exercising several times a week, you are successful.

I want to play the guitar with my grandchildren.  (My first will be born in 3 months!)  So I started taking lessons and practicing daily a few months ago.  I’m now a successful guitar player.  (My wife may not quite agree with that last statement yet!)

Over dinner, we discussed the concept.  I could see that it was beginning to sink in when each of my friends recorded the definition in their iPhones.

And then this morning, I got this text from one of them men – my friend Adam:

“I am engulfed in ‘The Progressive Realization of a Worthy Ideal!”

He has been pursuing a very specific business goal for a few weeks now.  Daily!

I’d say my friend is a Success!

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  1. Matt Fagioli
    Matt Fagioli11-22-2012

    Robert, you’re post are always awesome! Can’t wait to see you again very soon

  2. Wilen Penha
    Wilen Penha11-28-2012

    Great message Robert. I recently also learnt that our behavior defines who we are: what we think, what we say and what we do. If we want to be a better person, guess who has to start?

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