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The Definition of Success - Essay Example

This highlights one of the important aspects of success: you have to succeed or fail at something – so creating a general definition of success might be a very difficult thing. Bill Gates has succeeded in becoming a billionaire – but has failed badly at becoming a professional basketball player. To accommodate this fact any generalized definition of success must account for these expectations or contradictions; it must, in other words, take goals into account. But sometimes someone achieves success without ever necessarily meaning to: when Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook, he had no intention of making billions of dollars – yet he is still successful (Veloso). Furthermore, if someone’s only goal is to get off the couch, then them doing so would not typically make them a success (barring situations like disability or injury). A close examination of etymology of the word “success,” along with cases both real and imagined, can show that a good definition of success would be “achieving laudable or worthy accomplishments that bring satisfaction or joy to the person who has accomplished them.” The etymology of the word “success” serves as a useful starting point for an understanding of its meaning. The word entered the language at the close of the beginning of the 16th century, with a meaning of “result, outcome,” from a similar Latin word which had the meaning of “happy result/outcome” (Etymology Online). This etymology reveals an important thing about the word success – it is inexorably linked to results. It has been linked to results from the very beginning of its entrance into the English language, and even before that. So for someone or something to be a success, that determination has to be based on an outcome of some kind – success is not about effort or intention, but about result. This helps explain the first part of the definition I advocate – “achieving ... accomplishments” – success has to be about something that someone has done that has tangible consequences. Success is a very results-oriented business, and has been since the word entered the English language, so any definition of success must account for results as a central aspect of its meaning – a real, concrete achievement is the central part of success. The primary part of the definition of success it that someone has accomplished something. But this cannot be simply anything, as a few real-world examples can help to demonstrate. Some people have been very able to accomplish their goals, but would not generally be deemed to be “successes” by our society. Joseph Stalin, for instance, managed to gain control of the Soviet Union and rule it for many years (Sebag 13), but would not be considered a “success” because his achievements did not meet the second part of the definition – they were not laudable or worthy achievements that he gained. He ruled his country with an iron first, and the quality of life in Russia during his time was incredibly poor (Sebag 15). So while he met his needs and perhaps accomplished his own goals, the lack of worth in those goals means that neither he nor his causes were successful. This logic holds true of all modern day ...Show more
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Summary

Few would argue Bill Gates’s success, or Bill Clintons, or the success of any other number of people who have risen to powerful positions, giving them wealth and power. These examples highlight two of the biggest things often associated with success: earning large sums of money or achieving powerful conditions…
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