To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived, this is to have succeeded.


To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived, this is to have succeeded.Ralph Waldo Emerson

Do you have to win the trophy to be a success, or can you be a success just for having finished, or even to have started?

Do you have to win the trophy to be a success, or can you be a success just for having finished, or even to have started? Do you even have a definition of success?

What does that mean?
This is an interesting quote, as I have been discussing the definition of success with someone recently. This quote has a very simple and easy to measure definition of success. What is your definition of success, and how do you measure it?

If you don’t know what it is, and with a fair amount of specificity, how will you chart a course from where you are to your definition of success? And if you cannot measure it, once you are there, how do you know if you have enough of it?

Today’s quote is both precise in destination, and elegant in measure. It defines success as having helped one person because you lived. Even those providing an example of what not to do in life can be a successful person, by this definition. That is a very powerful idea.

Why is knowing how you define success important?  
Think about that for a moment. How many people have a vague idea of what they want out of life, but have no firm idea. And even if they have a fairly solid idea, like being rich, how do you measure that? Would someone living in squalor in a third world country consider ‘rich’ to be at the same level as someone in a developed country?

If you cannot measure it, how will you know if you have arrived? How will you know you have arrived? Or, worse yet, how will you know that you are drifting away and need to change course? If you can’t measure it, you never will know, will you?

By defining success, and being able to measure it, you at least have a chance to achieve it. Otherwise, you will be like the blindfolded child swinging at the pinata. You’re never going to succeed, unless someone helps you, or pure dumb luck intervenes. That’s no way to live a life, at least in my opinion.

Where can I apply this in my life?
What are you working towards at this point in your life? Do you have a destination, or just a general direction? Is it the same as last year or the year before that? How much has it changed, both in direction and in amount? A little, or a lot?

Major changes in life often are accompanied by major changes in the definition of success. Founding a business changes your definition of success, right? What about getting married or divorced? How about having your first child? Or even another child?

How about having a significant surgical operation or a life-threatening illness? Or even having a family member, close friend, or sympathetic figure have something similar? These kinds of mile-stone events can cause a bit of introspection in a person.

The ultimate question, in the theme of this blog, is to define success. It has to be something that holds meaning to you. By that, I mean that if your mom wanted you to be a doctor, becoming a doctor would be achieving success for her, but not necessarily for you, right?

How much time have you spent thinking about what success means to you? Yes, it would be nice to have more than that, but what’s the minimum for you to believe you have been successful? More importantly, is it something you can achieve on your own, or do you require help from others, or from blind luck?

If your definition of success was to win $100 Million in the lottery, do you really have any power to be successful, or is your future success and happiness tied to a random, and very slim, chance? Even if you wanted to work for it, how many people make $100 Million in their lifetimes? More than win it in the lottery, but still a very small number, right?

So, what is it going to be, for today, at least? Tomorrow may bring new opportunities, right? Take a little time to think of the kind of things that make you feel good inside. Is that a better definition of success than a pile of cold cash?

Of course, everyone will have a slightly different opinion on this. Some will point out it will simply become a game of numbers, while others will point out the good that could be done with charity work. That might be a goal for later in life, after you’ve been successful in other areas of your life.

I would recommend you start with something easy, and when you achieve it, celebrate the success, and then find a new challenge. Perhaps you will want to do more of the same, or perhaps something different. But by all means, do something, achieve something, define your success, and achieve it. Repeatedly.

Success is out there. You simply need to define it, and then achieve it. But the definition must be yours, not that of your parents, not that of your culture or religion. If it means nothing to you, the success will not be sweet, and that’s not very motivational, is it?

From: Twitter, @iheartquotes
confirmed at : http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/r/ralphwaldo140896.html
Photo by lumaxart

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About philosiblog

I am a thinker, who is spending some time examining those short twitter quotes in greater detail on my blog.
This entry was posted in contribution, help, hope, improve, reflection, success and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived, this is to have succeeded.

  1. Pingback: Thought Ripples: Defining Oneself | Two Voices, One Song

  2. supriya says:

    I love this quote so much that I am trying to live my life according to it. Awesome post 🙂

    • philosiblog says:

      Thanks for the kind words. It truly is an interesting way of defining success, one which too many people seem to overlook. Keep working on it, the world needs more good examples!

  3. Pingback: When success meets me | Hope of light

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