Word Nerd: 5 Creative Definitions of Success & How to Form Your Own

23 Jan


Success is a popular term. It is also a nuanced one; as much a personal definition, as a cultural construct. The word is derived from the Latin successus, which comes from the verb succedere – come close after. The question hidden in the word’s etymology then is – to come close after what?

A lot of it depends on your stage of life. Perhaps, for you, it could mean a seat in your favourite college, the top rank in an exam, or a fat paycheck. For your parents, it could mean health, great family dynamics, and your well-being & happiness. But it is simple-minded to force the ideal of success into a straitjacket. Recently, we did a piece on how an 18-year old girl turned a rejection letter from University of Oxford into a piece of art, and what seemed like a failure into a win.

Success implies a pursuit of goals. But it does not specify either the goal, or the way you should pursue it. If that’s got you thinking about what success might mean to you, we bring you 8 definitions of success by people universally acclaimed as successful

Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.”John Wooden
An American basketball player, a Beta Theta Pi brother, and head coach of the UCLA team, Wooden was nicknamed the ‘Wizard of Westwood’ for winning big & better than any coach in basketball history.

“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”Maya Angelou
Over 50 honorary degrees, a Pultizer, Tony Award, 3 Grammys, the National Medal of Arts, & the Presidential Medal of Freedom – success can certainly look like this. But that is not how poet, writer & activist, Maya Angelou defined it.

Success is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.” — Winston Churchill
One of Britain’s best known Prime Ministers, Churchill knew both failure & success intimately. He was awarded a Nobel Prize for Literature, and is consistently ranked one of the most influential people in British history. We can take his word for what success is, and how it can be achieved.

Success in life could be defined as the continued expansion of happiness and the progressive realization of worthy goals.”Deepak Chopra
One of the wealthiest & most famous names in Alternative Medicine, Deepak Chopra, wrote an entire book on ‘The 7 Spiritual Laws of Success’. What do you think of his definition?

“If you carefully consider what you want to be said of you in the funeral experience, you will find your definition of success.” — Stephen Covey (NYT)
Now that you have read of four definitions of success, you might want to think about what success will mean for you. Well-known motivational speaker, author, and professor – Stephen Covey, tells you how to find out your personal definition of success.

May you come close after it.

What is your definition of success? Email us. Read other Word Nerds here.

Related stories:

What Can a College Degree Do for You?

One Response to “Word Nerd: 5 Creative Definitions of Success & How to Form Your Own”

  1. Dedicated servers August 16, 2017 at 2:54 pm #

    I want every child to turn into a nerd – where that means someone who prefers studying and learning to competing for social dominance, which can unfortunately cause the downward spiral into social rejection. Without nerds to lead the way, the governments of the world will stumble, they’ll be forced to seek guidance from good-looking, but vapid airheads.

Leave a Reply