What is Real "Success"?
A Comprehensive Guide to Sorting Real Success from the Phony Kind
The word "Success":
- we all hear and talk about it, dream, think, wonder about it, work for it,
seek it, find it, lose it again,
- but to ask the basic question . . .
- what IS it, exactly?
There definitely seems to be REAL success in life...and a thousand imposters.
And we, your loveable LiveReal Agents, wanted to get to the bottom of it.
...because we figure, if we're all searching for it,
we should first get clear on what it really is.
What Is "Success"?
A) Financial: Success is measured primarily in terms of wealth; i.e., success means making enough money to afford the very best antidepressants available on the market today.
B) Mystery: Success is something mysterious and intangible that we cannot define . . . but should all be striving for anyway.
C) Social: A person's success is measured by their status in society and their rank on the social ladder; the more status, connections, or friends one has; the higher one's rank on the social ladder; the more famous or desired by other individuals one is, the more successful they are. (Examples: Cleopatra, Elvis)
D) Power: A person's success is measured by the power one has over other people, the ability to control or influence the lives of others (Examples, Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton, Adolf Hitler, etc)
E) Intellectual: A person's success is measured by the number of facts one can remember, the number of concepts one understands, the number and depth of knowledge one has on certain matters. (Examples: Albert Einstein)
F) Aesthetic: A person's success is measured by the amount of beauty and/or truth one can capture, create, express, embody or purchase.
G) T. S. Eliot: "Success is relative. It is what we can make of the mess we have made of things."
H) Physical: A person's success is measured by their body's physical health and vitality, and freedom from disease or un-health.
I) Joseph Heller: "Success and failure are both difficult to endure. Along with success come drugs, divorce, fornication, bullying, travel, medication, depression, neurosis and suicide. With failure comes failure."
J) Sexual: A person's success is measured by their attractiveness to and quality and/or quantity of sexual acts they engage in or relationships they have.
K) Moral: A person's success is measured by their ability to do the right thing, or to do good to other people.
L) Hedonistic: A person's success is measured by the amount of fun one has, pleasure one enjoys, good times one participates in.
M) Tennessee Williams: "Success and failure are equally disastrous."
N) Genetic: A person's success is measured by his or her passing on of genes to the next generation.
O) Mediocre: A person's success is measured by their ability to just get through the day.
P) Psychological: A person's success is measured by their mental and emotional health.
Q) Emotional: A person's success is measured by the frequency or rarity of which they experience fear, anger, guilt, anxiety, depression, confusion, irritation, etc.
R) Hierarchical: A person's success is measured by their position in the hierarchy; i.e., the closer to the top they are, the more successful they are.
S) Gore Vidal: "It is not enough to succeed; others must fail."
T) Familial: A person's success is measured by their involvement and participation in the success of one's children or family.
U) Acquisitional: "There are two things to aim at in life: first, to get what you want; and, after that, to enjoy it." (Logan Pearsall Smith)
V) Philanthropic: A person's success is measured by the degree one has helped other people succeed, or, by the degree that one has helped something besides oneself, such as the planet, dolphins, the poor, the homeless, etc.
W) Spiritual: A person's success is measured by whether or not one has attained salvation, enlightenment, or degree of spiritual maturity, by the station one has attained for oneself in the hereafter, or by the nature and quality of the relationship with one's Creator, or one's true place in the universe.
X) Abraham Maslow: To work one's way up a hierarchy of needs (Physical, Safety, Belonging/Love, Esteem, Self-Actualization)
Y) "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." (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
Z) Albert Einstein on Self-Overcoming: "The true value of a human being can be found in the degree to which he has attained liberation from the self."
AA) Purpose: A person's success is measured by whether or not they have done what they were born to do. (Abraham Maslow: "A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself.")
BB) Anna Pavlova: "As is the case in all branches of art, success depend in a very large measure upon individual initiative and exertion, and cannot be achieved except by dint of hard work."
CC) Character: it is something that is preserved, achieved, measured or reflected as a quality of your character.
DD) Unique: Something different for every individual.
EE) Common: Something we all have in common, to one degree or another.
FF) It's a matter of happiness.
GG) It's knowing why you're here, and then living according to that knowing.
HH) "...all of those gifts, they don't mean a g#$d&#! thing. And this dinner doesn't mean a g#$d&#! thing. And the Social Security and pension don't mean a g#$d&#! thing. None of these superficialities mean a g#$d&#! thing!
What means something - what really means something, Warren - is the knowledge that you devoted your life to something magnificent. To being productive . . . and working for a fine company - hell, one of the top-rated insurance carriers in the nation. To raising a fine family, to building a fine home, to being respected by your community, to having wonderful, lasting friendships . . . At the end of his career, if a man can look back and say, "I did it - I did my job" - he can retire in glory and enjoy riches far beyond the monetary kind. All you young people here, take a good look at a very rich man..."
- from the movie "About Schmidt" ( - a movie which, interestingly enough, makes an argument against this very definition...)
II) Ammachi: "At the end of our days on this earth, after all our successes and failures, the measure of worth for our life will be how much we have loved."
JJ) All of the above.
KK) Some of the above:______________________________
LL) Other: __________________________________
Your Answer: ________.
When you finish your quiz, please pass your papers to the front.
You will probably be graded, but may not be;
we're not sure when or even if you'll find out what your grade,
and we might know who will or won't be grading your papers,
but then again, we may be wrong.
"Some rise by sin,
and some by virtue fall."
- William Shakespeare
"I returned, and saw under the sun,
that the race is not to the swift,
nor the battle to the strong,
neither yet bread to the wise,
nor yet riches to men of understanding,
nor yet favour to men of skill;
but time and chance happeneth to them all."
- Ecclesiastes 9:11
Appendix III: "Real" Success
For about the first decade or two here on the planet, we're subjected to years of grueling tasks and chores because it's supposed to get us "educated" about how to live in this crazy world.
It often seems that our educators think that the key to success in life is forcing us to stuff our head full of as many facts as possible (which, most of the time, we forget shortly after) - and that's what makes us "educated."
It seems to us that this whole approach is barking up the wrong tree. In our experience, most truly successful individuals we know of were not necessarily the best at dissecting frogs, diagramming sentences, or collecting leaves. Rather, in the world outside of the classroom, most truly successful people we know of were skilled in a whole range of other areas - such as, for example, emotional intelligence, moral intelligence, they were very skilled in the areas of relationships, they knew how to deal with stress, had a lot of insight into character, understood a great deal about "love," and "God," and "happiness," and things like that...all stuff that was never really taught by anybody.
So, where can you go to really explore things that matter?
Well...you're on one right here. That's what this site is about.
We're planning on digging deeper. Stay tuned.
Appendix IV: A book that asks a pretty good question.
"It may be said now that the value of this unfoldment remains as high as it ever was.
It is true that I would place this treasure far above anything
which may be obtained in the ordinary world field, in whatever domain,
such as achievement in government, in business, in science, philosophy, mathematics or the arts.
All these stand as values far inferior to these greater values
which come from Fundamental Realization."
- Franklin Merrell-Wolff
Appendix IV: Is our definition of "success" all screwed up?
Every so often, while we're busy doing what we do, we pause and ask ourselves - "am I working for the right thing?" Am I painting the wrong house, crop-dusting the wrong field, shoveling the wrong pile, climbing the wrong ladder, training the wrong dog?
Sometimes a person "wakes up" at a certain age - forty, fifty, eighty - and thinks, "What am I doing? I've wasted so much time. What have I been doing for the last twenty, thirty, fifty years? What has it all been about?"
. . . not exactly a pleasant experience, but it's one that your LiveReal Agents want to tackle head-on - by helping sort out what real success is from what it isn't, what is worth doing and what isn't - to hopefully prevent a few people (ourselves included) from spending the little amount of time and energy we have heading down a dead-end path. After all, it's the same basic question - what is worth doing? Why are we here? And what should we do about it?
...Questions your trusty LiveReal Agents
are in hot pursuit of...
"I went into the woods
because I wished to live deliberately,
to front only the essential facts of life,
and see if I could not learn what it had to teach,
and not, when I came to die,
discover that I had not lived.
I did not wish to live what was not life,
living is so dear,
nor did I wish to practice resignation,
unless it was quite necessary.
I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life,
to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life,
to cut a broad swath and shave close,
to drive life into a corner,
and reduce it to its lowest terms,
and, if it proved to be mean,
why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it,
and publish its meanness to the world:
or if it were sublime, to know it by experience,
and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.
For most men, it appears to me, are in a strange uncertainty about it . . ."
- Henry David Thoreau