What does “SUCCESS” mean to you?

Let me dare to ask you this stupid question, “Do you know what success means to you?” I called it stupid, because with whomsoever I talked about success, everybody said don’t tell us about what is the meaning of success? We know what it means to be successful – it is about having a good education, better jobs, profitable business, good house to stay and once a year vacation. That is how the most of the public describe success. I am pained and worried with this limited and self-centric understanding of success.

I am worried because such a constricted understanding of success is depriving us to be human and taking away humanness from us.

We are just becoming skilled slaves, who work for longer hours for minimal benefits, sleep less, socialize to the least, and live on stretched budgets. We nurture within us fear, ego, anger, sadness, and jealousy more than happiness, compassion, love and peace. Living with stress and diseases (physical, psychological, neurological and emotional) has become the norm of modern society. Blaming others for our failures, criticizing everyone, tiptoeing, pulling down, and stabbing others are the syndromes that we have accepted as norms.

Therefore, there is an urgent need to redefine success. If we continue with our current understanding, which is evidently limited in scope; we will end us further widening gap of inequality, increase social unrest and disturb global peace. If we don’t redefine success we will end up paying higher and higher price with each passing day at every level – personal, social, national and global.

My own reflections have led me to categorize success and the way people understand success and adopt it. There are three distinct categories: survival success, motivated success, and inspired success.

Survival Success: Approximately 30-35% of population falls in this category. Here, one struggle to meet basic needs. The lone motivation is to survive and if possible come out of constant fear of survival, uncertainty and unpredictability regarding life’s basic needs. There is a lack of understanding of purpose of life.

Motivated Success: Nearly 60-65% of population, largely from middle class background constitutes this group. Their basic needs are met. They give emphasis to education, and skills enhancement. Their motivation to succeed in life is fuelled by ego, cravings for more, and self-centeredness. They are go-getters. They work harder for materialistic gains and recognitions. Their vision, mission, ambition and purpose of life revolves around themselves. This category is often infected with disease of ‘ME or I”.

Inspired Success: Less than 5% of the population is self-initiated in this category. However, even less than 1% of them truly can be called a person with inspired success. These are the individuals of high repute to the likes of Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, and Baba Amte, etc. These individuals often never cared for basic needs, and have demonstrated enough courage to stand against odds. They are self-inspired with holistic understanding of purpose of life. Their vision, mission and intention in life is larger than life itself. They are always in giving mode, with immense compassion, love, and care for others, with sense of humbleness, gratefulness and gratitude.

Whenever I talked about these categories of success, I am often asked, “I do recognize myself in one of the category. Is it possible to move from survival or motivated success categories towards inspired success category?

Yes! It is possible because life is a journey of continuous transformation. You have potential to evolve with every moment of your life. It requires broadening of our current understanding of success. After years of introspection, here is my understanding of success.

SUCCESS to me is Soulful, Universal, Compassionate, Complementary, Excellence driven, Spiritual, Self.


This definition of success appeals to me because for me success is not limited to materialistic gains and recognitions.

Success to me is harmonious progress in all eight assets of life, viz., (a) Inner life or True You, (b) Health, (c) Family, (d) Career, (e) Economy, (f) Associations, (g) Adventure and (h) Legacy. It is my experience that when you make balanced and harmonious progress on all of these eight assets – you evolve as true human being with full of humanness.

And, who does not want to be the better, selfless human being! However, first step is to rework on your own understanding of success, and broaden or deepen it if necessary. How broad or deeper that understanding needs to be? It depends upon your purpose of life. It is my understanding that

Success is directly proportional to the degree of realization of the purpose. – Vishwas

Welcome to this renewed understanding of SUCCESS.

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