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Success vs. Achievement (smart philosophy from MarketSmart)

People are mixed up about two very important words- success and achievement.

A Thesaurus will tell you that success is achievement and achievement is success. They’re synonyms.  Right?  Wrong! I disagree.

And I believe the media, politicians, and even schoolteachers inadvertently confuse people by propagating the interchangeability of both words.   The problem is… achievement does not always yield a positive outcome.  Therefore, achievement can’t equal success.  For instance, some people achieve great heights by trampling on others either physically, emotionally or financially.  Is that honorable?  Are those achievements worthy of being sought after?  How about the drug dealer who makes a ton of money selling poison and death to children?  Will his achievement make him a “success story”?

Here’s the definition of success I learned from the best-selling author and speaker Earl Nightingale (founder of Nightingale/Conant- the world’s largest publisher and producer of self-development products).

Success is the pursuit of a worthy goal.

Conversely, achievement is attainment or the accomplishment of a goal or purpose.

Now this might take a minute to grasp because we’ve been taught otherwise for too long.  So stay with me.  All our lives we have been told that achievement equals success.  But that’s simply not the case.  Think of them as two very different concepts.

Let’s go back to my favorite definition.  Success is the pursuit of a worthy goal. It means that one will be, and will continue to be, successful as long as they simply pursue a worthy goal.

Here’s an example.  My 11-year-old daughter loves ponies and horses.  One day she decided to raise money for a wild mustang rancher in California who saves wild mustangs destined for the glue factory.  She called up some friends and asked them to help her bake and sell cookies for her cause.  Soon they were blasting out emails, texting, and chatting with 5th graders all over town promoting the idea.  A few hours later they had tons of cookies and over $480 in donations pledged.

Now.  When was my daughter successful?  Was it when she got the $480 in her hands?  When she sent the money to the mustang ranch?   When a news reporter decided she was successful and promoted her story in the media telling people what she accomplished?

No.  My daughter was successful every moment she pursued her worthy goal.  From the moment she decided she was going to do something positive and every step of the way thereafter, she was successful.

Success is the journey.  Using this definition, you can be successful every moment.  While we pursue a worthy goal, every step we take, every word we say or write, and everything we do that leads up to our attainment of that worthy goal makes us successful.

Simply stated, we are successful as long as decide to pursue worthy goals and act upon that decision.  Not when we attain them (as we have been taught).

Living a successful life and running a successful business are the same.  They both require us to decide upon several worthy goals and continuously take steps to pursue them.  Those who do achieve great things on the path called “success”.

The MarketSmart take on it all: You can have achievements without success.  But you can’t achieve anything worthy without being successful.

2 Comments

  1. Danny April 28, 2013 Reply

    Gud day. I like your definition of “success” in this article. I just want to add something. As long as you are happy in life, you don’t harm anyone in attaining your dreams and worthy goals, that is also success. Success cannot be measured by any material things nor by fame. Real happiness can measure success.

    Great day!

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