Beyond Wealth and Fame: New Ways to Look at Success


According to Merriam-Webster, the word “success” is defined as “the attainment of wealth, favor or eminence.”

That could mean a number of things. To some, success means you finally have enough money to score those floor seats at the Portland Trailblazers games, and many of the fans in the audience know who you are when you walk in. To others, success means having the biggest house on the block, the shiniest car on the street or the title “CEO” attached to their name.

But while many people might agree that success involves earning a certain level of wealth and fame, there are many other ways to define the word. To examine this notion a bit more, check out the following points—along with other ways to look at success:

Consider Your Greatest Achievements

Another way to view success starts with acknowledging your greatest achievements. For instance, maybe you taught yourself a second language, paid off your student debt to the U of O in record time, trained for (and completed) a 10K, learned to ski, or whittled down your credit card debt to almost nothing. It doesn’t have to be earth shattering; just think about a goal you’ve reached or a job you’ve completed with well-deserved pride. Once you’ve named at least five accomplishments, look for a common theme or two—for instance, the aforementioned examples all took a lot of persistence, passion and an unwillingness to give up. These themes can help you determine what helps define what success means to you long-term and how, when you use these themes in everyday life, you will feel successful.

Find Inspiration from Unusual Sources

If you want to be a successful freelance writer, it makes sense to find a writer to mentor you on how to get started. The same goes for pretty much any other goal. As humans, we have traditionally looked for like-minded people to inspire us, and thus help us to become successful. While this is good, it’s also important to look outside of our industry or comfort zone for innovators to inspire us. For example, a hedge fund manager who is ruthless but efficient might help you to understand and attain your own version of success. In his best-selling book, “The Age of the Unthinkable,” author and businessman Joshua Cooper Ramo encourages people to live “revolutionary” lives defined by high levels of resilience and perseverance. A journalist turned businessman who is now the vice chairman and co-chief executive of Kissinger Associates, Ramo himself is someone to look for as a source of inspiration.

Happiness: A Barometer of Success

Oregon has had plenty of extremely wealthy residents, including billionaire Phil Knight, co-founder of Nike. Once again, it may be tempting to equate vast amounts of earnings with success—and Knight certainly is successful in the classic sense of the word. But many suggest that when the chips are down, we should all judge our level of success by how happy we are. Some may enjoy the prestige of a corner office and large bank account, but if they are miserable and depressed, are they really successful? On the other hand, some may work a minimum wage job, but as long as they have enough money and time to cover the bills and be with their family, then they consider themselves happy and successful.

Decide for Yourself

Once you spend some time figuring out what personality traits make you feel the most accomplished, you will be well on your way to feeling successful. Look for inspiration from unusual sources, forget about the constant link between money and success, and strive instead to be content—then you can truly feel like you have achieved success in life.



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Founded in 1994 by the late Pamela Hulse Andrews, Cascade Business News (CBN) became Central Oregon’s premier business publication. •

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