What’s your definition of success?

I often hear business goals talked of in terms of numbers – of customers, followers, subscribers, turnover, profit, sales, income…

But when I ask the question, “What’s your definition of success?” the answers that come back are as varied as they are personal.

For some it’s to make a massive impact and change the world they live in. For others it’s to do the weekly grocery shop without worrying about how much the bill comes to. For some it’s about where they live. For others, how they live.

I love this definition of success that was read out at a funeral today:


“To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people
and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics
and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better,
whether by a healthy child,

a garden patch,
or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson 

I didn’t know Neil very well, but from what I saw and the tributes I heard from his family today, he certainly succeeded and lived well.

What about you? What’s your definition of success?

Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/flixel/


  • I think mine is about everyone around me feeling happy with what they have and having a relaxed life. I strive for my children to be stress free and comfortable with who they are. Success for me is to to be happy with what I have and living and enjoying it. From a business perspective it is about helping others change their lives.

    • Well said Naomi. I think knowing that really helps you to do things in a way that gives you the most value and satisfaction.

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  • That’s great Grace, thank you for sharing that

  • FabCircle

    Wonderful poem! He was such a wise man old Ralph! And a beautiful choice for a funeral reading. 

  • Sue Plumtree

    Ralph Waldo Emerson’s definition of success chimed deeply with me. Beautiful – and, for me, spot on.

    • Glad it resonated with you Sue, thanks for stopping by to comment.

  • I enjoy reading your poem, it’s very
    nice. Thanks for sharing it. Well done. . .

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