As a person who often feels inadequate, who struggles with the concept of success, I spend a lot of time reviewing self-help books and reading quotes from other people about success so I can win at life and get cake. Yet, there isn’t a consistent vision on what success is or how to achieve it. There are those who talk about success in terms of opportunities:
The ladder of success is best climbed by stepping on the rungs of opportunity.
Most successful men have not achieved their distinction by having some new talent or opportunity presented to them. They have developed the opportunity that was at hand.
The secret of success in life is for a man to be ready for his opportunity when it comes.
Others of these thinkers say success is about a state of mind:
Self-trust is the first secret of success.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
Success is a state of mind. If you want success, start thinking of yourself as a success.
– Dr. Joyce Brothers
The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather in a lack of will.
-Vincent T. Lombardi
Some believe that success is just about the effort one puts into trying to achieve it and ‘stick-to-it-iveness’.
Success is dependent on effort.
Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up. -Thomas Edison
The secret of success is constancy to purpose.
I do not think there is any other quality so essential to success of any kind as the quality of perseverance. It overcomes almost everything, even nature.
-John D. Rockefeller
Another group believe success is all about failure and hardship.
Failure is success if we learn from it.
Develop success from failures. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success.
Success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom.
-George S. Patton
And the final group I surveyed are the outliers, the crazy on the edge group that is scattered in their beliefs.
Action is the foundational key to all success.
The man who has done his level best… is a success, even though the world may write him down a failure.
-B. C. Forbes
As a rule, he or she who has the most information will have the greatest success in life.
Wait, you may be saying. Benjamin Disraeli is in two groups! Yep, those who talk about success tend to be all over the place in regards to how to achieve it. This fact is one of the reasons why I am so quick to dismiss any trite saying as a way to achieve success. If the goal of success was simple to achieve and any one of these quotes actually led to that goal, then people like me wouldn’t struggle so hard trying to comprehend and achieve it.
Defining success is difficult in and of itself, but is necessary to know if one has achieved it. Success in the generic sense means laying out a goal and achieving the goal. If my goal for today involved writing a researched blog entry, then today was successful. Success means different things to different people. For some it is all about achieving a certain level of wealth. For others it is a certain level of fame. Yet others define it in terms of having a loving family.
Reading through all the quotes one can find on the idea of success, achieving it, and dealing with it once it is attained, one cannot help but be stricken by the sheer volume of words devoted to the subject, and how the words sometimes contradict each other. The lesson is simple. All paths lead to success.
Woody Allen once said, “70% of success is showing up.” For him, success was about seizing the opportunities that were presented to him when he was there to take advantage of them. Relying upon an opportunity to make one successful feels like playing the lottery. Hard work and perseverance creates success for others. Thomas Edison putting in long hours created success. Not letting failure stop you goes along with the perseverance model. Failing and trying again leads to success. Keep failing until you succeed. History mostly remembers the successes not the failures. In the mind over matter category, the belief in success leads to success.
None of these quotes, views, opinions can be argued with. Each is a path to success. Each is a way to help define each person define success for oneself and a way to achieve it. I do think there is one quote that captures the essence of success though.
There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.
That’s it in a nutshell. The best positive attitude won’t necessarily make a person successful. Hard work and effort doesn’t create success. Failure does not lead to success. Education, information, and resources does not guarantee success. Being successful by any measure means taking the risk to fail, working hard, and having the necessary knowledge and resources. All of this is predicated upon knowing which measure of success to use. Just like any journey, before taking the first step, we have to know where we want to go.