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Success is a suitcase word. 

MIT Media Lab professor Marvin Minsky’s observation is that a suitcase word Means nothing by itself, but holds a bunch of things inside that you have to unpack.

He saw the need to unpack and analyze these words as they often contain multiple and expanding meanings. And “Success” is one of the words that has many meanings.

The “success” word and its suitcase of many meanings

Society can tell us what success means and our heart can tell us something else. Our capitalist, media-centric, and consumer society will tell you it’s fame and fortune.  

But your heart may tell you something different. It may tell you “success is not all about money”.   

Here are some of the range of meanings that sit in the word bag that is success:

  1. Achieving goals – These can range from succeeding at achieving sporting goals, business goals, or academic achievements. I felt I was successful when I got second in the class for spelling in grade 5. My father wasn’t so sure as he asked me “Why didn’t you come first?”
  2. Personal Fulfillment – Inside this sits another bunch of meanings; for some, it may be success as a parent and raising a happy family or it could be writing a successful novel. A fulfilled life can be a successful life. And don’t let the world tell you anything different if you already feel successful.
  3. The achievement of wealth, prosperity, and fame – These are often seen as the measure of modern success. But for many people, the burden of excess success comes at a price. And that might mean anxiety and loss of privacy. In a recent Robbie Williams documentary the desperate need for attention and affirmation was what he craved. He saw that as “success”.
  4. Overcoming life’s challenges and obstacles – Rising above physical and emotional challenges is often seen by many as success in itself and to be applauded. Some of us have many of these obstacles and others seem to sail through life unscathed. We all admire a wheelchair athlete who has succeeded in life despite the odds. And Richard Branson rose above his dyslexia to become a billionaire.
  5. Longevity and consistency – A business person who has maintained a profitable company for a long time. One extreme example of this is Warren Buffet and his company Berkshire Hathaway which has been trading since the 1960s and is the 6th largest publicly trading company in the world valued at over $700 billion. 
  6. Positive impact on the world. – Mother Teresa and Nelson Mandela can be seen in this light. Along with this came fame. But it wasn’t sought after and wasn’t needed for them to feel they had succeeded. 
  7. Personal growth – Just acquiring new skills or evolving as a person for some people is success. This may also include the ability to maintain and nurture a healthy network of relationships and friends.  

Last words

I think the fun about this suitcase word is that you can choose for yourself which one suits you (no pun intended)

Success may be living a simple life with no debt and just traveling.

For others, maybe success is about having the freedom to go surfing or sailing or create art.  

Choose yours and own it. 

For me, success doesn’t mean anything unless it comes with deep happiness.

And that is the next “suitcase word” we will take a look at. The recipe for happiness is different for all of us.  

The post 7 Types of Success – Are You Successful and Don’t Know It? appeared first on Jeffbullas's Blog.

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