Figure Out What Success Means to You

The Lake Oconee Boomers Team

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This is an excerpt from Nice Start, © 2010 Mark Chussil.     

“Success” is an excerpt from Nice Start: Questions Only You Can Answer to Create the Life Only You Can Live. “Read it with relish. This is real wisdom.” — Larry Brooks, bestselling author. 


Here are some ways that people define success:

Money. Fame. Beauty. Survival. Long life. Freedom. Free time. Children. Marriage. Possessions. Piety. Serenity. High test scores. Being first. Being well-adjusted. Being loved. Loving. Working. Achieving a goal. Setting a record. Overcoming fear. Overcoming handicaps. Great effort. Great decisions. Great results. The journey. Applause. Inner satisfaction. Health. Time to relax. Parties!

Success involves tradeoffs. For instance, achieving great works and taking time to relax can be in conflict. For another instance, you probably will find it difficult to pursue everything. You’ve got to choose what you really want.

Success implies measurement. Is it success to score 500 (on a scale of 200 to 800) on the verbal portion of the SAT? Maybe yes for the immigrant who didn’t speak English six months ago. Maybe no for the child of sixth-generation English professors who piped the works of Shakespeare, Dickens, and Marx (Groucho) into the crib.

Success requires value judgments. There is no universally “right” way to measure success. Cultures differ dramatically in how they define success, and so do individuals within a culture. However, if you don’t define success for yourself, then you will use someone else’s definition and you will find it difficult to know when (or if) you have achieved it.


How do you define success?

Does your definition require being better or doing better than other people?

If you are not successful according to your defini- tion, are you a failure?

Would you want the people you love to use your definition of success?

Like almost everyone who uses e-mail, I receive a ton of spam every day. Much of it offers to help me get out of debt or get rich quick. It would be funny if it weren’t so exciting.
Bill Gates (1955-)

The common idea that success spoils people by making them vain, egotistic and self-complacent is erroneous; on the contrary it makes them, for the most part, humble, tolerant, and kind.
W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965)

A rich man eats when he wishes /
A poor man, whenever he can.
“Rich Man, Poor Man”, words and music by Peter Yarrow (1938-) and Peter Zimmel (?)

Visit for information about the book and author, more testimonials, and a sample chapter. Available at,, and 212 pages, © 2010. ISBN 978-1-59299-474-8.

Mark Chussil is author of Nice Start: Questions Only You Can Answer to Create the Life Only You Can Live. He’s also Founder and CEO of Advanced Competitive Strategies, Inc., serves on the Board of Directors of Friends of the Children, has been quoted in CBS News, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and more, and has traveled nearly 3,000,000 miles to six continents.