Success is... (2)

What is success to you? Definition is the beginning of understanding but if I decide to list all the definitions that have been given to this all desirable word, I’ll be at it this time next month. So we’ll just take a few and move on with our deliberation.

 According to, success is “the favorable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavors; the accomplishment of one’s goal, 2.The attainment of wealth, position honor, or the like”, while the ‘oxford learners dictionary’ says “the fact that you have achieved something that you want or been trying to get, 2. The fact of attaining rich, famous or high social position…”
Friend of mine says“you’ve not gone English until you go Webster and Webster says it’s an; Outcome, Result: degree or measure of…, favorable or desired outcome. Also the attainment of wealth, favor…’ Ok, tongue biting words, moving on. The truth however is that all the big definitive words are true, but they are either not encompassing or very hard to apply. 

Many great minds, both of our century and prior, have given lots of definitions to success. Leadership gurus like ‘John Maxwell, Brain Tracy, Ken Blanchard, Zig Ziglar, Myles Munroe, and many, many others have tried to put a human face to success, and make it more applicable, understandable and reachable. As a result, there are thousands of books that deal with the subject of success. What I am trying to do here is not merely to discuss success as a subject, but to demystify the concept, and make it applicable to us. To do that, I will discuss a couple of thoughts that will help us understand what success is or is not, and hopefully get to define it for ourselves. 

Let’s look at some things I think will help us define or understand success.

  • Success is universal yet relative:

Success is a universal desire. Everyone wants to be successful, from the New York bestselling author to the road side mechanic. There is no living human being that does not have an innate desire to be successful. It’s the way we are made. We are born with the relish for accomplishments, the hunger for success, an inner craving we did not plant there ourselves. This is common in everyone. What is not common however, is what success means to each of us. We would all agree that we all wish to be successful, but a bar fight would ensue if you tried to say what that success is. Why is that? Because everyone has a different definition of success. The musician with a platinum record considers a hundred million sales success. A doctor, ten surgeries a day, a teacher, that all her pupils passed the test, a banker, landing the account of a fortune 500 company, the CEO of the said company,  that they have broken into the china market… success means different things to different people. What is success to you?

 You cannot cover a pregnancy with your bare hands
Ibo proverb
  •  Success is moral not physical in nature:
People usually flip out whenever they see some of the paraphernalia that come with success, big cars, houses, fat bank accounts, for them, success is easily seen by its fruits.  But success is not about the ability to acquire possessions. We will consider just three examples and move on.

1. Why do we strip the Olympic gold medalist of his medal after he is discovered to have used drugs? Is it possibly because it is not successif it is a misrepresentation? If that is the case, every successful writer who plagiarized, every top executive who stole his leading idea, every graduate who cheated on the exam and definitely every rich person who stole the money is not successful. My question is, would we consider the person a success if they were not caught,seeing that if not that they were caught we would never have known? The truth is that even when not caught, the perpetrator knows, so even when others are celebrating you, the knowledge that you stole your victory pilfers the true joy of success from you, leaving you an empty feeling of failure that no one else may see. 

2. The person that chooses a higher moral stance for example Mother Theresa who worked with the poor, or someone who offers their gifts and service at no cost simply for the joy of a greater gain. If this person successfully accomplishes this without a bank account or a large building to show but with undeniable fulfillment, the rich taste that comes from accomplishment, would we consider this person successful even though there is no pomp and glory? 

3. Lastly, an armed robber who goes out in the night, successfully robs and maims, even murders a few people and comes back with a load of cash, is he considered successful, seeing he achieved his aim and what he prayed for?

What’s money? A man is a success if he wakes up in the morning and goes to bed at night and in between does what he wants to do.
Bob Dylan 

"Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /"

Kanayo Aniegboka

Kani is a writer, entrepreneur, blogger, public speaker and an all-round knowledge junkie who likes to view life from different angles.


  1. The 3rd point just got me thinking deep.
    Sometimes we just have a weird understanding of what success truly is and the society and people in it just doesn't help most times.
    A lady is considered unsuccessful(stricken) if at 30 she's a graduate,have a well-paid job, a car, good house and without a husband. Not like marriage shouldn't be(ofcourse I belong to the institution) but what's the point of being with the wrong person(an abuser ,irresponsible fellow etc) all in the name of pleasing the societal definition of what a successful lady should be?
    God help us truly define success for ourselves and give us the grace to stick to it no matter what picture society paints

  2. True Debbie,I think we even face more challenge when society's expectations are also ours.It's a double barrel pressure because we don't seem to know which we are trying to please more, ourselves or society.