How Do You Define Success?

“If your success is not on your own terms, if it looks good to the world
but does not feel good in your heart, it is not success at all.”

– Anna Quindlen

There are many ways to define success. The truth is – they don’t really matter. What matters is how you define success. So….

How do you define success? In other words, how do you know when you’re successful?

If you haven’t thought about it, chances are your definition of success is that of someone else – your parents, your friends, or the culture you live in. Yet success is very personal and we each define it differently.

Here’s a story to illustrate this point. I listened to Tony Robbins share a story about two men who attended one of his seminars who had very different definitions of success.

The first guy stood up and said he’d be a success when he made $2 million and had 6% body fat etc. etc. He didn’t feel successful as he was only making $1 million and had 10% body fat. Many of the people in the audience thought he was successful!

Then Tony looked at the audience to find another person to share. There was this very excitable guy waving his hand in the air. Tony asked him to come up and define success. He got up and said that he was successful if he woke up and wasn’t six feet under. In other words – if he woke up and was breathing – he was a success.

Despite the definitions differing wildly, the man who most people thought was successful because of the amount of money he earned, didn’t feel successful. The guy who was full of energy and life did feel successful.

The moral of the story – when we define success as an end-point or destination, we only get to feel successful momentarily. If we do reach the destination, we may celebrate but then we may set a new definition.

What if instead we created a way of measuring our success on a daily basis?

Finish the statement below:

I know I’m being successful by….

Before you read further, just try it. Write down 5 endings to that phrase. You may be pleasantly surprised with your answers.

The late Thomas Leonard, the founder of Coach University and Coachville, shared this template for defining success on a call in 2001. When I first tried this exercise, this is what I wrote:

I know I’m being successful by how much time I spend creating in my work day.


I know I’m being successful by how peacefully and calmly I surrender to letting the universe guide me.

The advantage of defining success in this way is you have numerous opportunities to feel successful every day! The energy of success is so uplifting and positive that you feel great!

Feel free to share one of your success statements in the comments box.

Source: To read more examples of statements and to read the transcript of the call Thomas led on the subject visit:
(An FYI – the page above is somewhat old and some of the graphics and links do not work.)

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