What Is Success?

Could I ask you to answer a couple of questions. You can do this offline or in the comments of this post.

  1. Name 3 people you consider wildly successful.
  2. For each person you named, what is the number one criterion for establishing his or her success?

Please do that before continuing.


Okay. I’m going to guess that, when all the answers are tabulated, wealth and income will be the top criteria for success. The people will be mostly famous and rich with a smattering of Mother Teresas and Martin Luther Kings.

The problem with measuring success with money is that we might admire horrible people. Adolf Hitler ruled Nazi Germany by decree and acquired access to any luxury he desired. By that measure, Hitler was one of the most successful people of the 20th century.

Another way to measure success is whether you leave the place better than you found it. Or do people get better or worse because of exposure to you. On those measures, Hitler was, perhaps, the greatest failure of the 20th century.

I’ve heard my whole life that politics is “rough and tumble,” “dog eat dog,” and “winner take all.” So the only thing that makes a politician successful is winning an election. The only thing that makes a political consultant successful is the consultant’s wealth.

If those are our criteria for success in politics, then people need to stop whining about corruption, crony capitalism, decaying values, deteriorating schools, and declining civility. Working to make our communities and our country better interfere with financial success in this dog-eat-dog, winner-take-all world.

Zahlungsmittel über alles!

Author: William Hennessy

Co-founder of St. Louis Tea Party Coalition and Nationwide Chicago Tea Party Persuasive design expertLatest book: Turning On Trump: An Evolution (2016)Author of The Conservative Manifest (1993), Zen Conservatism (2009), Weaving the Roots (2011), and Fight to Evolve (2016)I believe every person deserves the dignity of meaningful work as the only path to human flourishing.

4 Comments on “What Is Success?

  1. Any individual who has overcome a devastating illness or disability and went on to lead his/her life to the best of his/her ability. That includes members of our military. They inspire others to not give up and to overcome their challenges.

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