How do you define success?

July 30, 2014

If you wake up in a pool of blood and it’s yours and you have not been shot, that is not what success looks like, is it?  It’s an interesting question, posed by Arianna Huffington, the founder of Huffington Post and an imagesinternational media icon.

Huffington once lived a fast-paced, intense, high-pressure life, but it was taking a toll.  After falling from exhaustion, and breaking her cheekbone on the side of a table, Huffington decided it was time to redefine success.

Success is traditionally defined by power and money.  Huffington has written a new book, called Thrive, which focuses on the third metric of success.  The intensely personal book, backed by research and practical tips, reveals that the third metric is made up of: Wellbeing, Wisdom, Wonder and Giving.

Not for a moment is Huffington suggesting we abandon money and power. But she says those two metrics alone might leave us feeling dissatisfied and unhappy.

You don’t have to concur or even adopt Huffington’s third metric, but it does pose an important question. Imagine if success was a blank page on Wikipedia and you could contribute your definition, but could not use the words money or power.  How would you then define success?  For me, success is spending time with my family and friends, doing work I love with people I like and being involved in stuff that makes a difference in our world.  And wellbeing (I always had this, but under health and fitness, so I have borrowed Arianna’s label).  I also like nice shoes.  I’m not sure if this list is complete and it will probably change and evolve over time.

One of the most shared pieces of viral content on the internet is a palliative nurse writing about people’s deathbed regrets.  Number one on her list? “I wish I had the courage to live the life true to myself; not what others expected of me.”

Quite often the traditional definition of success is what others expect for us.  When we redefine success on our own terms it allows us to live life on our terms. To find our individual version of the third metric of success.

What is your definition of success?


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