What is Success?

By Corey Poirier

We hear the word success thrown around every day. Lists of people who have achieved success are just as wide-spread.

What I find interesting is that when you ask people what success means to them, everyone has a different (or at least slightly different) answer.

For some it means having a big bank balance or having no debt. For others it means having freedom of time or choices. For some it means having a well-balanced family or social life.

The list goes on, and on.

With such varied definitions for success, it is no short wonder that so many have dedicated so much time to researching and teaching the foundations of success.

Without a definitive answer, it also begs the question, how do you know if you are truly a success? How do you know if you are on the right track, and even whether it is important to you?

Interestingly, in my own study (4000 interviews, thousands of hours invested, 15 years of personal study, and counting), I have yet to come up with one conclusive (or inclusive) generic sentence to define success.

To that end, instead of attempting to give you one specific/inclusive answer, I am listing some of my favorite definitions from some of my personal interviews so that you can decide what success means to you, and perhaps even write your own definition to help you achieve that definition in your personal and professional life.


Despite the fact that I haven’t discovered one inclusive definition that applies to everyone equally, I have discovered this:

If you don’t have your own definition of success, know what it means to you, and/or you haven’t decided how you will eventually achieve success, at least by your definition, your odds of ever realizing it are very limited, at best.

Here then are a few of my favorite success definitions, so that you can perhaps start working on your own definition today:

“Success for me is maintaining rewarding relationships with those I love while I share success principles with the world.”
Success Legend Zig Ziglar (from Interview before his passing)

“It’s certainly not all about material items. It can be that for some people, but success to me is about having full control over your own time, and your life. As they say, one man’s Ferrari is another man’s ten speed.”
Alan Frew, Lead Singer, Glass Tiger

This one, with Bob Dylan’s definition included, is a 2 for 1:

“To be able to march to the beat of a person’s own drum without having to sell-out, that is one way I would describe success. Actually, I think Bob Dylan said it best when he said a man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do’.”
Gair Maxwell, Branding Expert

Notice that none of the definitions above are specifically about having a lot of personal material, or having a massive amount of money – although when I ask people who haven’t discovered their core purpose yet, it is always about money.

The question becomes, which group do you want to be in?

Corey Poirier is speaking at the HR Conference + Tradeshow 2018. His session, The Timeless Secrets of Influential Leaders, is on Wednesday, May 2. For more information on this and other sessions, please visit cphrbc.ca/conference.

Corey Poirier is a multiple-time TEDx Speaker. He is also the host of the top rated ‘Conversations with PASSION’ Radio Show, founder of The Speaking Program, and he has been featured in multiple television specials. A columnist with Entrepreneur and Forbes, he has featured in/on CBS, CTV, NBC, ABC, and is one of the few leaders featured twice on the popular Entrepreneur on Fire show.

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