Defining Success

Success is basically the state or status of achieving a set of pre-defined expectations. It can also be defined as the opposite of failure, which is also the status that a person achieves after falling ill. In most cases, success is thought of as an individualized approach to achieving a goal. The standards of success may be relative to personal perception or theoretical basis and depend greatly on context. This paper will address some of the most common definitions and their relation to success, as well as some of the common failures that result in no lasting definition of success.


In order to define success, we must first look at the word itself. In the English language, the word ‘success’ is derived from the Greek word ‘akasa’, which literally means ‘a road leading to success.’ When Americans define success, they typically take the path of a definite path that is defined by specific, external factors. This definition of success then becomes the starting point for defining the path of a person’s life – from where he comes to where he is.

There are two major ways that Americans view success: as an end within itself, or as having a set of predetermined goals and measures to achieve these goals. Americans who have this second way of looking at success are much more likely to meet their set goals, but with much less effort than those who view success as an end within itself. It has been found that people with this second set of standards tend to experience much less stress in their lives than those who maintain a standard of success based upon the standard of success of others. People who adhere to this view are not particularly happier, but also experience less pain and higher energy levels. The results of this study suggest that a person with these standards is more likely to see himself as successful and happier than those who adhere to the first definition of success, especially when comparing the results obtained from the latter to that of the former.

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