July 17, 2010

What is Success?

Ralph Waldo Emerson was an American poet and philosopher. One of his best-known bits of wisdom may not have been written by him. There is some debate as to his authorship. But, for our purposes I will continue to give credit to Mr. Emerson for what follows. Not published until well after his death, this is what he (or someone) said about the subject:

What is Success?

  • 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.

I have posted these words on a printer in my office for over a decade. Every time I copy a piece of paper my eyes are forced to see these words. Certainly, I am not claiming that every time I have a flash of insight and see my life's purpose with new clarity. But, it is impossible to not glance at the words. Just that look is enough....enough to remind me that success is not a goal claimed only by the Bill Gates or Steve Jobs or Billy Grahams of the world. Everyday individuals can succeed by simply being human, by showing civility and respect, by speaking less and listening more, and by assuming each of us has a reason for being.

And, for our purposes on this blog, there isn't one thing he says that cannot be accomplished after you have retired. Success does not require employment or a big bonus, or a corner office. In fact, real success has nothing to do with those trappings.

Think about it.


  1. Well put Bob. I discovered this particular quotation some years ago and also have a copy readily available to review and get myself back on track. I even shared it with my sales team when I left a recent position - some words of wisdom to remember me by! Good stuff - I will be checking in regularly. Keep on posting! Dave

  2. Thanks for the feedback, Dave. Sometimes the best stuff is old stuff ! Your blog looks solid. I've added a link to the left side of this blog. Stay in touch.


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