How do you define success?

Tracy Hutchins

Success is different for different individuals.

Success and what success means to people can really spark a debate. Success is different for different individuals. Success is personal. Success is controversial. What one deems as success another may frown upon. Sometimes success is equated to riches. We are judged by our title, the home we live in, the cars we drive and the holidays we take. People make a judgement based on your material possessions. The scary thing is there are many unhappy millionaires but in defense of that statement there are also many very wealthy people who love their lives.


I read a sentence many years ago that I have never forgotten, it simply said “rich people live well, while wealthy people sleep well.” This sentence had a profound impact on the way I have always thought. It implies that wealthy people have peace of mind, they have avoided the debt trap, they have made their money in a way that makes them proud. They have secured their future and they have not been seduced by money alone. They don’t live on the edge, waiting for the next big deal, they don’t lose sleep over cash flow or a sluggish economy. They enjoy the success of security.

In fact the explanation goes one step further, wealthy in this sentence may not have anything to do with material riches but everything to do with the life they have created. A life that makes them happy. They sleep well at night because they have strong family relationships. They don’t hold grudges and they respect those around them. They enjoy what they do and they do it with passion. They have a grateful heart and they believe in their fellow human beings.

People like Richard Branson come to mind when we refer to wealth, he says “that success is about happiness,” Warren Buffet values relationships above all else and Maya Angelou believed that success is about enjoying your work.


Now I’m not saying that money is bad, but I have learnt over many years that money doesn’t make you happy or successful. Money pays the bills, money helps you sleep a little better at night. Money pays school fees, money puts food on the table and money can make you look really good. Money helps you enjoy the finer things in life, good restaurants, overseas travel, expensive clothes, the latest electronics. But money on its own without the love of a family, without good health, without job satisfaction provides little satisfaction.

Fame, does fame make you successful? Author of a best selling book, actor or actresses in box office movies, politicians, inventors, large business owners, athletes, are all of these people to be respected, do they regard themselves as successful? Have they had a positive impact on anyone else’s life? Have they retained their dignity in pursuit of their passion or have they lost their souls. It is a sad day indeed when people in the public eye, take their lives or transition to drugs, alcohol or even having affairs, lured in by success but not able to handle the consequences.


Success to some might seem isolated, it may seem that it’s only for a few, it may appear illusive but this could not be further from the truth. There are so many things that people do that make them successful. Let’s think about the young single mom who provides her children with a good education, does that not make her successful? The parents that work on making a blended family work so that they raise secure young adults, who could not describe that as success? The paraplegic that works his way into the Olympic games above all odds. The teacher that helps raise a child’s self esteem. The marathon runner that trains bare feet because he does not have money for running shoes. The individuals that give of their time to help run soup kitchens. The domestic who builds a home for her family. The small business owner that provides employment and contributes towards the economy.

Each of these people may think that what they do is insignificant but in some small way they are making a massive contribution to society. They are successful. Before you think you don’t make a difference, before you label yourself as unsuccessful, think of your life in more detail. What challenges have you had to overcome, how many hours have you had to work on yourself, what fears have you conquered, what impact have you had on the life of another human being? Have you set a goal and worked for it with every thing you’ve got? Do you have character traits like perseverance, persistence, honesty, integrity, loyalty? Don’t take these things for granted, there are many people who don’t have these qualities.


Do you sleep well at night because you have put food on the table for your family. You have encouraged another human being to make the most of him or herself. Are you there for a friend in need, do you spend time caring about others, then you are successful? You may not be the richest individual, your name may never be in lights, the average person in the street may have no idea of your struggles but you do. You may not have a major bank account, your next door neighbour may not even know your name but you are an overcomer, you care, you make a difference and you do it with integrity.

So to define success is difficult, it means so many things. It’s a sense of accomplishment, it’s feeling like you have achieved in some areas of your life. It’s happiness, it’s prosperity. It’s feels like you never have to work another day in your life, because you just love what you do. You may feel victorious, since you have overcome obstacles. You may be loving the comforts that life has to offer and that money has provided and that makes you feel good.


On the other hand you may not be seeing the successful “you” right now. You may be feeling like a loser, it may seem like your life has not amounted to too much. You may have buried some of your dreams. You could even be feeling a little hopeless but that’s okay.

Tomorrow is another day, you can set new goals, you can create a new normal. Think of one thing that you would like people to recognise you for and then fight to make it happen. Everyone has greatness within them. Everybody has the ability to be successful. Some may not recognise your success and that’s because it’s not their journey, they don’t know your past, your circumstances, your challenges but you do. Just put one foot in front of the other everyday and walk in a direction that will make you proud and you will inevitably feel successful.

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Tracy Hutchins
Tracy Hutchins

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