What is success?


Is success achieving certain results, targets and goals?

Everyone has one objective in common—to be successful. But everyone has a different definition of success.

Even the most intelligent of people don’t spend adequate time understanding and defining success, and find out later that their definition was inaccurate. Sometimes people find out their definition of success was wrong when they are on their deathbed.

So what is success?

Is success achieving certain results, targets and goals?

Say you set up a goal to save 10 Million in 10 years and you achieve this. Does that make you successful?

Your parents wanted you to be a doctor and you became one. Are you successful?

Your organisation asked you to grow revenues by 50 per cent and you managed to do it. Are you successful?

You have a job as a vice president in a leading multinational, which you, your parents, your in-laws, your spouse and your children are very proud of. Are you successful?

You have bought a house and paid up its loans and have no more EMIs. Does that make you successful?

There are two dimensions to success — external and internal.

All achievements, such as savings, recognition, status, possessions, power, reputation, social standing, standard of living, and so on are in the sphere of the external world and these are signs of success.

External success is preceded by internal success.

If you got good scores in an exam, it required intelligence, hard work, clarity and focus.

If you bought a house and paid up all EMIs, it required energy, persistence and commitment.

If you got a promotion and became vice president, it required skills, passion and persistence.

If your startup became successful, it required the ability to deal with uncertainty, faith in your idea, passion and intuition.

External success requires an internal success first.

Outer victory is preceded by inner victory.

Before your project is a success, ‘you’ need to be a success.

High energy, enthusiasm, ability and will for hard work, skill, passion, intuition, clarity of mind, contentment, ability to handle fear, uncertainty, negative emotions and criticism are all dimensions of inner success.

If we have to summarise inner success in one line, it would be – “Having an unshakeable smile”.

External success can be unstable and unreliable, could change or even disappear. However, if ‘You’ are successful, that is, if you have an unshakeable smile, then any external success is always attainable.

(The author is faculty & director, Art of Living Corporate Programme)


  1. What is success for someone who doesn’t want anything, a perfect example of living in the present. . Is that person a failure.

  2. Very much potent and relevant to our day to day life!

    When confidence comes from inside you then you can be successful at anything in life.

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