Anna Kazcorowska

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What is your definition of success?

I've recently read about two entrepreneurial, Swedish girls who love bicycles, technology and design. They are also into bicycle safety.
They spent seven years researching and working to invent a bicycle helmet worn like a collar that opens like an airbag in case of accident. And it works.

http://www.hovding.com/en/how/
http://vimeo.com/43038579

They succeeded although not everybody took them seriously. A quote from one of the links above - “If people say it’s impossible we have to prove them wrong.”

This and a talk by Angela Lee Duckworth made me think of a question I'd like to post - what is your definition of success?

  • May 10 2013: SUCCESS CAN ONLY BE ACHEIVED THROUGH STRONG PERSEVERENCE AND IT IS THE FRUIT OF OUR LABOUR.
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    May 9 2013: Success is anything I want it to be.
    What may be "Success" to me, may not be "Success" to you.
    My personal definition of Success?
    Finding meaning, feeling fulfilled with life.
    • May 9 2013: I couldn't agree more, Bernard!
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        May 9 2013: However I feel the need to stress, that "success" isn't necessarily moral! :P
        What do I mean by this?
        Well if I thought my meaning and purpose was to kill people, and I felt quite at peace with this.
        From my own logic : This rare case would be success, yet not "moral success".
        I suppose the best way of saying this is :
        There are different types of success, which are dependent on the person.
        There probably isn't a one "fit all" definition of "Success".
        Kind regards,
        Bernard.
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          May 9 2013: Thanks, Bernard. What would components in "moral success" be? How would it influence you and others?

          "Finding meaning, feeling fulfilled with life. " and not forgetting others in and outside your life, I think. The two innovative girls in the links I provided help not only themselves, but also many others by concentrating on safety, details of it, enjoyment in life and fulfillment + business together. Maybe that was their definition of both success and moral success.
          What is yours?
          Cheers.
        • May 10 2013: Bernard, I agree, there is not "one "fit all" definition of "Success", or at least, there shouldn't be!
          The definition and achievement is, or rather should be, determined by each individual. Whether that success is moral or not, like you describe, is actually beside the point, I feel.
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    May 13 2013: Hi Anna,

    This is an interesting question. I cannot define success without defining the goal I'm trying to achieve. So when someone asks me "how do you define success?" I ask "What is the action you are referring to?" In other words, to define success, you need measures of success. Also, I really like the way you asked the question: "what is your definition" as opposed to "what is the definition." I believe that success depends not only on the goal you are trying to achieve but also on the person or group of people achieving that goal and the person or group of people judging the results.

    Take for example Student 1 and Student 2. Both students want to pass the same exam (that's their goal). But Student 1 is happy with any passing grade (measure) and Student 2 is an A (measure) student. The exam is graded and Student 1 gets a B and Student 2 also gets a B. Which student is successful?

    You (the judge) might say that both students are successful, since they both obtained a passing grade. In addition, based on Student 1's measure of success, he/she will also consider himself/herself to be successful. However, it will be hard for Student 2 to consider himself/herself to be successful because he/she is an A student.

    So how do I define success? Success is the achievement of a goal according to preset measures within the limits of personal values. To me, success is one of those things about which everybody talk but of which no one has the same definition (because people value different things). Hope that answers your question. :)

    OC
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      May 13 2013: Thanks you for contributing ,OC.
      Out of sheer curiosity - how would you describe limits of personal values and how does that change being successful? What if they expand or shift?

      By the way - aren't the the girls and their helmet just awesome? :)
  • May 12 2013: For me its a life lived in love. I don't meam a life where you are loved or love another but rather a life where love of life, passion, curiosity fill you. This can drive you on to go beyond fear of all kinds and even igniting a form of self discovery. This can open you up to the new, a life lived without fear is unlimited. Note that this goes way beyond money or power or comfort. In fact these things are never mentioned. Unfortunately, today's society values little more than monetary success (also power). For example an artist is considered successful if he can sell his paintings for a lot of money and not for his art.
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      May 13 2013: Thank you, Frank.

      Really good points!

      "This can open you up to the new, a life lived without fear is unlimited."
      ...unless limited by others' fears. The others can be societies that value monetary success and power, as you point out.

      When it comes to the artist - a lot of artists were actually poor during their lifetimes if they didn't get a sponsor that helped them pursue their passions. Not all of them. Those who didn't sometimes get forgotten, sometimes live on in small circles, sometimes get famous after their death. On the other hand, if an artist willingly sells himself to the sponsor, is he still an artist or just an employee? How does the digital age influence all that, the balance between different definitions of success in art? Just some thoughts and a question.
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    May 11 2013: success is Fulfilling dreams
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    May 11 2013: Success is learning from failure.
  • May 11 2013: My idea of success:

    To love, to be loved, earn the respect of my peers, and live in comfort, while doing no harm.
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      May 12 2013: Hi Barry,

      Thanks for your comment.
      It reminded me of a freind of mine, he seems to have a philosophy which is almost exactly what you're mentioning... I used to talk to this person a lot and almost think... somehow, just living in comfort, is... not enough. What do you think? I do not disagree with you in any way though.
      • May 12 2013: I was not trying to convey a philosophy, but perhaps I can expand on my comment a bit.

        When one loves, one cares. Caring cannot be limited to just family and friends. Empathy and caring and technology are slowly changing us into a global village. Comfort for self is not enough. (On the other hand, failure to form the global village does not lessen success.)
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    May 10 2013: Success is self defined and is simply personal fulfillment.
    You are successful when your vision and mission are accomplished.
  • May 10 2013: Feeling that you are doing the most you can do with what you have and not letting what you do not have ruin your life.

    Feeling that you work is making a meaningful contribution to the greater good of all mankind while providing a means to keep you family healthy, happy, warm and fed.

    Feeling that your contributions to the next generation have prepared them for the challenges they face.

    Feeling like you worked hard at the end of each day, being pleased with how you spent your time, and being able to sleep peacefully.

    Feeling like you have made every family member you come in contact with know somehow that you love them, appreciate them, and genuinely care about their happiness and well-being.

    Having people smile, wave or somehow recognize you as you pass-by in recognition of friendship, admiration, or respect.

    Seeing your children happy, successful, and responsible young adults.

    Seeing your original ideas manifested into a product that solves a problem or performs a service for a customer.

    Sharing a creative part of yourself with others and having them smile or somehow enjoy what you have shared.
  • May 9 2013: I believe success is the feeling a person gets when they accomplish something they were striving for. Success could be felt form something as minuscule as winning a recreational soccer game to something so amazing as a noble prize. One person can't necessarily define success because success can be based off the standards you give yourself therefor by the goals you set for yourself you should be able to define your own success.
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      May 9 2013: "One person can't necessarily define success because success can be based off the standards you give yourself therefor by the goals you set for yourself you should be able to define your own success. "

      That's very interesting, but cannot say I relate when you say that success is the "the feeling a person gets when they accomplish...", do you have an example? It's good to be able to say "yes, I did it!", how about saying "yes, I did it, what next?".
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    May 9 2013: This is a great topic of conversation. For me, success is deeply personal and its a not necessarily one long term goal, but a daily journey. I feel successful everyday if I do a good job on my work, if I have a great conversation with a friend, if I don't burn dinner, etc... Success in life relies more on perpetual enjoyment, which is in the journey not the conquest.
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      May 9 2013: Thanks for sharing. I agree, but "perpetual enjoyment" makes me a bit unsure... Sometimes burning dinner may lead to laughs and even more enjoyment if you don't live in a country struck by famine, that is.
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    May 23 2013: Every one has his/her own idea of success. In my opinion, ther e are two aspects. Firstly, I think a success person is he/she has some interested things to do. Passion and hobby are the most important things in the road to success. They drive you do things better, and you will feel a sense of fulfillment. Secondly, a harmounious family relationships is also vital to a man's success. That's my understanding about Success.
  • May 20 2013: Success is doing what you are passionate about so well and getting aprreciated for it..... I believe passion drives fulfillment and being recognized for what one is passionate about brings long lasting success... passion makes you not stop at anything, obstacles become opportunities to be better and results fuel the energy to achieve.
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    May 16 2013: I would like to suggest that Success is about resilience. It doesn't matter how or what it is measured against, the more effort required to be resilient is a mark of success. People who climb their way up to become successful in business, may not have as many barriers than other who fight for survival, but resilience is what get both through.
    Resilience comes from an understanding that you have to have hope and believe there is purpose to every ones life, even if it means to just survive or release a product that will change peoples lives. That is what you call Grit!
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    May 13 2013: Hi Anna, i would agree with Olivier.... each individual has his own measure of success ... his own hunger !!! A person may be doing right or wrong things .... depending on how the civilized society looks at it e.g theft is a socially accepted crime but for the thief a theft well done is success !!!! A saint's sermon delivered well is also success and so is a teacher when his students perform well !!!
    Probably, if you know where u want to go and you are able to reach there..it would mean success.... it's something like a game of "Ludo" or "Sudoku" or "Snakes and Ladders".... you have a target to achieve and if you do --- you are successful....LIFE IS JUST A LARGE FORMAT VIDEO GAME ... have your target and go for it !!!
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      May 13 2013: Hi,

      Thanks for yopur reply, I have some questions - when did theft become a socially accepted crime? Do you mean corruption?

      "LIFE IS JUST A LARGE FORMAT VIDEO GAME ... have your target and go for it !!!" - an interesting point, but in real life there are real people and real issues as opposed to video games.
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        May 13 2013: Pls read and understand it as "theft is seen as crime in the society...."
        Also... The example reg life needs to be understood in that context...life is real..for sure...but then someone also rightly said...life is a stage and we just actors.who come in this world play their part and go back... Hope you wud agree.....:). I must say ... You are thoughtful and this question can come only from good brains...
  • May 11 2013: Success?
    Knowing that you have done your best and can manage with it.
  • May 10 2013: I think is the answer is in the question itself, "your", it differs from one individual to another according to what they do in their lives and want they want to be remembered of after their death, the other similar question I've been thinking of recently, is how to find what you love doing and want to spend the rest of your life doing, and also, what controls what each individual of us loves and likes? Obviously each of us loves different stuff and wants to spend their lives doing different different from each other, so what controls that? I mean, if we get 2 kids and grow them up in the very identical environment, would they still have different attitudes? and consequently, would fall in love with different things and want to spend their lives doing different things from each other and so have different definitions of success each based on what they basically love? Sorry for the maze I got you into, but I lead you to the same beginning at the end :)
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      May 12 2013: Hi Ahmed,

      To find out what we love doing we need to be given freedom of choice to be able to try different things and decide when we already have the experience, I think.
      To answer your other question - from my experience, yes, the two kids would still have different attitudes, used in their lives, or not, if given freedom of choice.
      Thanks for your comment, I see your point, it's all about "your" definition so it's individual, provided that we are allowed to pursue our individuality. What happens if we are not, though?
      Best wishes.
      • May 12 2013: What do you mean we're not allowed to pursue our individuality?
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          May 23 2013: Hi,

          Sorry for the late reply. I meant the a general standpoint - the environment and/or society trying to define a person by its own, sometimes faulty or prejudiced standards. You're a man so you're supposed to macho, you are born this and that so do this and that without wondering if this is really what you are best at or should do. If this happens, a person is not allowed to pursue their individuality that is - what they really feel for doing, fall for or can be good at.
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    May 10 2013: Although I only learned about “the nine noble virtues” last year, I have been living by them my whole life. So to me life is a success as long as I apply those virtues to everything I do, no matter if it is at work, BBQing, gardening, or being a good husband.
    I may burn something when grilling or plant something that does not grow, but if I have the courage, discipline, perseverance and industriousness to try to do it better, I will succeed.

    P.S. Anna or anyone, with the virtue of “Truth” it has two possible meanings, as something you seek or something you tell/say.
    To me it is something I seek, see, and accept, but I have had no luck finding how it was viewed in the original Scandinavian noble virtues. If anyone could enlighten me, I appreciate it.
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    May 10 2013: @Anna kazcorowska and Lizanne Hennessey,
    You both ask : "What is moral success".
    To me, it is following the golden rule, and ensuring the "subjective well-being" of your fellow humans.
    So to be "succesful" and "morally succeful" to me that means :
    "Finding meaning and purpose, feeling fulfilled with life, while at the same time following the "golden rule" and ensuring the well-being of your fellow humans".
    That fair?
    (Even though personally I view the golden rule has many flaws, and that "ensuring well-being" can remain rather dubious).
    I would be interested in both your thoughts on this :
    Success, in terms of biology, is passing your genes on and ensuring their survival.
    What would you reply to this?
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      May 10 2013: Hi Bernard,

      "Finding meaning and purpose, feeling fulfilled with life, while at the same time following the "golden rule" and ensuring the well-being of your fellow humans".
      That fair?
      (Even though personally I view the golden rule has many flaws, and that "ensuring well-being" can remain rather dubious)."
      I agree with that, but just for clarification - I would add "in the long run".
      When speaking about the Golden Rule and ensuring well-being... You also mentioned - "subjective well-being".
      Think of the following example - a person broke his/her leg, the bones have grown back together but in such a way that this person will need to have them cracked again in order to heal properly and be able to walk normally. This procedure will inflict pain on the patient (no subjective well-being here, just pain), but ensure well-being in the long run.
      Here, the short-term subjective well-being is taken away from the person and the one that is trying to help breaks the Golden Rule - s/he does unto others what s/he would not like to experience. But the effect in the end is positive, well-being is restored.

      Some people tend to confuse subjective well-being, instant gratification and fullfillment, that's why I think that adding the little "in the long run"-phrase can be beneficial when trying to define both success and moral success.
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        May 10 2013: That's an excellent point! :D
        However (just wondering) what is bad with " instant gratification and fullfillment" (with no bad side-effects) compared to "subjective well-being "in the long run""?
        Kind regards,
        Bernard.
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          May 10 2013: Hi,

          if your instant gratification and fullfillment has no bad effects on you and no worse on others and doesn't hurt anybody directly - good. Winston Churchill drank a bottle of whiskey per day. So what - isn't he still viewed as a great contributor to history?
          If instant gratification is hurtful to others though (see-Ted Bundy, a serial killer seeking enjoyment in pygmalionism-necrophilia and killing women to achieve it), there is something wrong with prejudice-based culture that allows this and doesn't stop this before it's too late. Wouldn't it be better if both drank their whiskeys in peace while not hurting anybody, being aware of the impact of their actions and thoughts and the long-run-effect of both? We should learn from history.
          Your subjective well-being may hurt mine and the same the other way around. Let's learn from all this for the greater good that everybody can profit from in the long run. The fact that I'm enjoying a glass of red wine now will not hurt me, but what about all the people who made this possible? Were they hurt in the process, how did they benefit from it?
          And more importantly - how can our awareness of all that serve everybody involved?
          Just some thoughts, not a definition of any sort.
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        May 10 2013: If you want my honest answer :
        I'm a slight Utilitarian.
        Yet a form of Utilitarian who believes that to reduce suffering (or harm) is more important than to increase "subjective well-being" (in the long run!).
        Personally I have quite a complicated moral code, which goes something like this :
        Evil : An action which harms somone.
        Good : An action which benefits someone.
        Then I split actions into three parts :
        - Intentions.
        - Means.
        - Consequences.
        However I do view strongly that you should follow the "Golden rule" at most times.
        Hmm.
        I feel I am getting too side-tracked.
        Am I?
        kind regards,
        Bernard.
        P.S However you could argue that Churchill's whiskey didn't benefit him in the "long-term".
        I would be interested to see how you would answer these two little thought experiment :
        - A pill is created which can make you happy (with no-side effects)!
        Do you take it, and live in an illusion?
        Second scenario :
        - You realize your actually on a pill, which makes life seem a lot better than it is (or you could just say "Your in the matrix"). Do you take another pill to escape?
        Wow.
        I have got a bit too far off topic haven't I? :)
  • May 9 2013: Hi Anna,
    Coincidentally, I started a conversation a couple weeks ago on this very topic, perhaps you'd like to see what people contributed there?
    http://www.ted.com/conversations/17837/what_is_success_to_you.html
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      May 9 2013: Hi Lizanne,

      I didn't see it before, sorry, I see that we concentrate on different sides of it though, mine is maybe a bit nerdy ;) Both takes on the subject are important and both conversations can run freely :)
      Cheers.
      • May 10 2013: Absolutely! They are both from different perspectives, yes!
        I thought, perhaps some of the comments made there would be helpful to you in your search for enlightenment! All the best to you!
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          May 10 2013: I was looking for perspectives, not enlightenment to tell you the truth, but I'm interested in both in a way, cheers!