Have you ever wondered what the definition of success is? Is it money, fame, academic achievement or physical appearance? Maybe it’s a combination of things.
According to the Miriam-Webster dictionary, success is defined as a “favorable or desired outcome.” But what does that look like?
“For me, being successful is going from trial to trial and goal to goal without losing your enthusiasm and optimism,” said Hayden Hubbard, a freshman studying biology.
The meaning of success changes at different phases of our lives. So if it is always changing, why is it so important to define?
“Success wasn’t as significant when I was younger,” said Brooklyn Dean, a senior studying psychology. “At the beginning of my college career, it was more about getting good grades. Now it’s more, ‘What am I learning? What am I applying to my life? What impact am I making in the lives of other people?’
To measure something, we need a metric. In construction, we measure things in terms of inches, feet and yards. But how do we measure something that is not visible? Is it based on our values? Our beliefs? Our moral compass?
“I think for me, success is meeting goals and being kind to other people and being able to make a positive impact in their lives,” Dean said.
Some say we are our own worst critic. While that might be true for some people, I have often thought about it in correlation with how we individually measure our success.
From a gospel perspective, we know our Savior, Jesus Christ, performed the Atonement so each of us can obtain the greatest success in our lifetime — which is to return to live with our Heavenly Father for eternity.
“What helps me is realizing that I need to rely upon the Savior and Heavenly Father because they know that I want to succeed and I know that they will help me,” Hubbard said.
So what if you are a perfectionist? How does that hinder the feeling of success? Can a perfectionist ever feel successful?
“I think I find success when I look outside myself and realize that it’s not the end of the world if I don’t get a perfect score or if I’m not the best at a sport and just enjoying the learning process,” Dean said.
Dean said to “enjoy the learning process.” We all have to learn new things at some point in our lives. How do you think babies learn to walk? They fail and fail and fail until they are what? Successful.
Just like babies learning to walk, there are things we will have to learn over and over again.
“We shouldn’t beat up on ourselves, but just keep trying,” Hubbard said.
We all know a man by the name of Michael Jordan. With six NBA championships and multiple MVP awards, he is arguably the best basketball player to ever play the game. But what is rarely talked about is his journey to the top. In high school, Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team because, in the coach‘s eye, he was not good enough.
Now, imagine if Jordan gave up the sport after being cut? The game of basketball would’ve never known his iconic name.
We don’t all have the goal of playing in the NBA, but for Jordan, that was what success meant for him. For me, it is defined in part by progression; am I better today than I was yesterday? For others, it may be as simple as getting through the day or not giving up when it seems like there’s no way out.
Whatever the case may be, success is defined by the individual, not by the dictionary.