What is Success

Being a business owner means I am around other business owners and sometimes have other business owners as Facebook friends. A good many of them are trapped in the world of positive thinking. They fully buy into the myths and stories made up to justify their success versus other’s failures.

The truth is most businesses fail and it isn’t because the ones that don’t are more successful than the ones that do. Owning a business is a lot like that old joke that flying is simply falling too fast to hit the ground. Businesses that succeed do so mostly because of luck. Successful business owners don’t have some special mindset or work ethic or grand idea. Successful business owners are simply failing slow enough to stay afloat.

I used success a lot in that previous paragraph and I think the meaning is fairly clear. In the context I used success it means a business that is still in business. The other day I saw one of the positive mindset people post about the difference between a successful person and an unsuccessful person is attitude or some such nonsense and I almost asked them what they mean by success.

What is a successful person? Is it the person with the biggest house? The nicest car? The prettiest spouse? Or is it something more simple? Is a successful person something like a mayfly? They happened to reproduce enough to replenish the population and now they are free to perish? The idea of there being some archetype of a successful person begs a lot of questions.

The positivity mindset nonsense is all wrapped up in this thing called the prosperity gospel which is loosely based on the predestination ideas from Calvinism. The idea is basically that the best people will be rewarded the most in this lifetime and that means wealth. If you listen close enough you can hear it often in our society. Think about court cases and one defense strategy being to show how together someone’s life is to say they couldn’t possibly have committed a crime. So and so is a doctor why would he assault Johnny in a bar? That type of thing. I’m sure you’ve heard it.

To the positive mindset people success is entirely monetary. I can’t imagine that to be true, but I also can’t tell you what success is. I’d like to have enough money that I don’t have to worry about it running out, but I don’t think of reaching that point as success. Success is a bit more personal than that, I think.

As a parent I look at my life now and will measure my success by how my children are doing. What it means for me to be successful is for them to be successful and again I don’t know what that means. Success could very well be tied into happiness. If life makes someone happy then they are successful whether they play guitar on a street corner or are a big city lawyer. It might be a simple and somewhat naive view, but how else should success be defined other than if a person feels successful.

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