Rodney Warner, JD
Rodney Warner, JD

I’ve changed careers, and I’m now into the world of sales. I’m new at it, and haven’t actually sold anything yet. There’s a possibility (a very small one, I hope) that I might flop in sales. It’s made me wonder if I’m really a “successful” person, and what that may or may not mean.

Does anyone not want to be a “success”? What does that word mean? What makes a person a “success”? What must they do? Should that word really have meaning?

Am I a success because I survived cancer? Because my daughter’s a great kid? Because I’ve lucked out into a wonderful marriage? If one doesn’t have a stellar professional life, is one not “successful”?

I know lots of people working in non-profits, helping people every day, making relatively little money. Are they “successful”? The world has its share of wealthy people, who are self-centered and uncaring about others, even family members. History is filled with people who’ve made fortunes by exploiting, and even enslaving, others. Are they not “successful”?

Does “success” come with a dollar value? Is there an amount one must make to attain that label? Must one positively influence a certain number of people before one is “successful”?

My brother attained more “success” as a lawyer than I did, and, I’m guessing, made more money than I. He’s got more kids. Hundreds showed up for his funeral and wake. But I’m alive, and he isn’t. Does that make me more “successful” than my brother?

Is this more an issue for men than women? If a husband is making less money than his wife, must he reverse that to be “successful”?

Should one even care whether or not others perceive one as being “successful”? Should it matter what others think about you, especially given how subjective the word is?

Many years ago, I read an interview with a woman who was a professional triathlete. She said she always tries to be happy, but never content. It was her way of enjoying her life, but always pushing herself to be a better, more “successful” athlete.

Can one be happy, without “success”?

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