Merriam-Webster defines it as “the fact of getting or achieving wealth, respect, or fame,” but this interpretation doesn’t feel complete.
With that in mind, we researched what foremost authors, inventors, and entrepreneurs consider success to be.
Read on to see how Richard Branson, Maya Angelou, Deepak Chopra, and others define success.
Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington says that money and power aren’t enough.
Huffington says that while we tend to think of success along two metrics–money and power–we need to add a third.
“To live the lives we truly want and deserve, and not just the lives we settle for, we need a Third Metric,” she says, “a third measure of success that goes beyond the two metrics of money and power, and consists of four pillars: well-being, wisdom, wonder, and giving.”
Together, those factors help you to take care of your psychological life and truly be successful, or as the title of her new book suggests, “Thrive.”
Legendary basketball coach John Wooden says it’s a matter of satisfaction.
With 620 victories and 10 national titles, Wooden is the winningest coach in college basketball history.
But his definition is more about competing with yourself than the other guy:
“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,” he said.
Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh says success is about living in accordance with your values.
“Your personal core values define who you are, and a company’s core values ultimately define the company’s character and brand,” Hsieh writes in “Delivering Happiness,” his memoir about building Zappos.
“For individuals, character is destiny,” he says. “For organizations, culture is destiny.”
Acclaimed author Maya Angelou believed success is about enjoying your work.
The late, great poet laureate, who passed away at 86, left behind stacks of books and oodles of aphorisms.
Her take on success is among the best: “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”
British politician Winston Churchill thought that success is being relentless.
At the prime of his political career–from 1929 to 1939–Churchill was kept out of office, in a period historians call “the wilderness.”
Yet he stayed publically active, and in 1939, the then-Prime Minister asked him to serve as First Lord of the Admiralty as Hitler’s Germany rose.
We can see how his definition of success arose from those frustrating years: “Success is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm,” Churchill said.
Billionaire Richard Branson believes success is about engagement.
Though Sir Richard Branson is worth some $5 billion, the Virgin founder equates success with being fully immersed in your work.
“My definition of success?” he asked himself on Virgin’s blog. “The more you’re actively and practically engaged, the more successful you will feel.”
Spiritual teacher Deepak Chopra believes success is a matter of constant growth.
The physician and author says it’s a matter of continual growth.
“Success in life could be defined as the continued expansion of happiness and the progressive realization of worthy goals,” Chopra writes in “The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success.”
Inventor Thomas Edison recognized that success is a grind.
Edison–holder of over 1,000 patents–had an insane work ethic. He was known to put in 72 hours at a time.
So naturally, his definition of success is equally ambitious: “Success is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration.”
Popular author Stephen Covey said that the definition of success is deeply individual.
Yet for Covey, success is categorically individual.
“If you carefully consider what you want to be said of you in the funeral experience,” he told the New York Times, “you will find your definition of success.”