50 Great Thoughts on Success
Are you completely successful?
By the time you get to the bottom of this page, you may be.
Success is all about having the right mindset. That’s why I’ve compiled 50 of the most powerful perspectives on success from some of history’s most successful people. Their definitions, quotations, formulas, misconceptions, and principles paint a clear picture of the mindset of a success.
Table of Contents
Top 10 Definitions of Success
#1 Winston Churchill:
“Success is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.”
#2 Deepak Chopra:
“Success in life could be defined as the continued expansion of happiness and the progressive realization of worthy goals.”
#3 Jim Rohn:
“Success is doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.”
#4 Anita Roddick:
“I want to define success by redefining it. For me it isn’t that solely mythical definition – glamour, allure, power of wealth, and the privilege from care. Any definition of success should be personal because it’s so transitory. It’s about shaping my own destiny.”
#5 Richard Branson:
“It is the satisfaction of doing it for yourself and motivating others to work with you in bringing it about. It is about the fun, innovation, creativity with the rewards being far greater than purely financial.”
#6 Orison Swett Marden:
“When a man feels throbbing within him the power to do what he undertakes as well as it can possibly be done, this is happiness, this is success.”
#7 Zig Ziglar:
“Success means doing the best we can with what we have. Success is the doing, not the getting; in the trying, not the triumph. Success is a personal standard, reaching for the highest that is in us, becoming all that we can be.”
#8 George Sheehan:
“Success means having the courage, the determination, and the will to become the person you believe you were meant to be.”
#9 Ralph Waldo Emerson:
“Success: To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children, to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends, to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded!”
#10 Wilfred Peterson:
“Success is focusing the full power of all you are on what you have a burning desire to achieve.”
Top 10 Quotes on Success
#1 Thomas Edison:
“Success is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.”
#2 Dorothea Brande:
“Act as though it is impossible to fail.”
#3 Woody Allen:
“Seventy percent of success in life is showing up.”
#4 Mark Victor Hansen:
“Don’t wait until everything is just right. It will never be perfect. There will always be challenges, obstacles and less than perfect conditions. So what. Get started now. With each step you take, you will grow stronger and stronger, more and more skilled, more and more self-confident and more and more successful.”
“Do or do not. There is no try.”
#6 Taryn Rose:
“Fear regret more than failure.”
#7 Edward Simmons:
“The difference between failure and success is doing a thing nearly right and doing a thing exactly right.”
#8 Abraham Lincoln:
“Always bear in mind that your own resolution to success is more important than any other one thing.”
#9 George Bernard Shaw:
“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”
“God gave us two ends: one to sit on and one to think with. Success depends on which one you use. Heads you win; tails, you lose.”
Top 10 Formulas for Success
#1 Albert Einstein:
“If A equals success, then the formula is A equals X plus Y and Z, with X being work, Y play, and Z keeping your mouth shut.”
#2 Thomas J. Watson:
“Would you like me to give you a formula for success? It’s quite simple, really. Double your rate of failure. You are thinking of failure as the enemy of success. But it isn’t at all. You can be discouraged by failure or you can learn from it. So go ahead and make mistakes. Make all you can. Because remember that’s where you will find success.”
#3 Stanley Tang:
“Success comes down to hard work plus passion, over time.”
#4 Swami Vivekananda:
“Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life: think of it, dream of it, live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success.”
#5 Mark Twain:
“To succeed in life, you need two things: ignorance and confidence.”
#6 Napoleon Hill
“Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success.”
#7 James Allen:
“For true success ask yourself these four questions: Why? Why not? Why not me? Why not now?”
“Success = an optimist in thought + a pessimist in action.”
“An Unfailing Success Plan: At each day’s end write down the six most important things to do tomorrow; number them in order of importance, and then do them.”
#10 Arnold H. Glasgow:
“Success is simple. Do what’s right, the right way, at the right time.”
Top 10 Misconceptions about Success
#1 Success is Complicated
“Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”
You can make success as complicated as you want, but it doesn’t have to be that way. As Jobs says, making success simple isn’t necessarily easy, but it is very powerful.
Take Google for example: their home page is one of the simplest on the web and that simplicity has allowed it to become the most popular site in the world.
#2 Success is a Destination
“There is no point at which you can say, “Well, I’m successful now. I might as well take a nap.”
It’s tempting to think about success as some far-off point where you’ve accomplished everything we’ve ever wanted: “I’ll be successful when I have my dream job, make a million dollars a year, and spend all my time traveling the world with my soul mate.”
This type of thinking is flawed because the accomplishment of worthy goals only leads to the possibility of accomplishing more worthy goals. A successful person doesn’t stop once they achieve something; they’re inspired to achieve something even greater. Success is an ongoing path. As Ben Sweetland said, “Success is a journey, not a destination.”
#3 Success is the Key to Happiness
“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success.”
If you’re unhappy, don’t blame it on a lack of success. Happiness is all about perspective. If you’ve got a cheerful outlook, it doesn’t matter if you’re a success or failure.
#4 Failure is an Indicator that You Won’t Succeed
“The hardest part about being an entrepreneur is that you’ll fail ten times for every success.”
Everybody fails. In fact, successful people fail more than failures because they take bigger chances. If you want proof, then check out the four biggest mistakes from the world’s four biggest entrepreneurs.
Failures are necessary on the path of success. Just learn from them and move on.
#5 Success Comes at the Expense of Others
Some people think that the only way you can move up in business is by stepping on people to get there.
The truth is actually the opposite: a business is successful because it provides value for people. As I’ve written about before, the more you give, the more you get.
#6 Moderate Success is Easier to Get than “Only in Your Wildest Dreams” Success
“Ninety-nine percent of people believe they can’t do great things, so they aim for mediocrity.”
Many of us are taught from an early age to have practical goals. We shouldn’t try to be a rock star, supermodel, or astronaut because the chances of success are so slim.
But it’s time to challenge those self-imposed restraints. As Ben Nemtin, from “The Buried Life”, pointed out: “The level of competition is highest for realistic goals because most people don’t set high enough goals for themselves.”
Don’t be afraid to go for your wildest dream. It may take more effort, but you’ll also be more energized.
#7 You Need to Wait Until the Time is Right
“Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must first be overcome.”
There’s no such thing as the “perfect time” to act. There will always be a problem. But successful people don’t let that deter them.
#8 Success has to be Traditional
“The fastest way to succeed is to look as if you’re playing by somebody else’s rules, while quietly playing by your own.”
Don’t get caught up with how other people define success. Traditional success includes a six-figure income, a happy family, and a house with a white picket fence. But your success doesn’t have to include any of these things.
#9 Success is Easy
“Striving for success without hard work is like trying to harvest where you haven’t planted.”
When people become very successful very quickly it almost looks like it just fell into their lap. But it only looks easy to us because we can’t see the whole picture. Success is earned. As the old saying goes, “The only place you’ll find success before work is in the dictionary.”
#10 Success = Money
“A business that makes nothing but money is a poor kind of business.”
This is a tired point, but it’s true: money is not that important. Personally, I would rather make a modest living doing something that matters than get rich trading stocks on Wall Street.
Steve Jobs was one of the richest people in the world, but he once said “being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me. Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful… that’s what matters to me.”
Top 10 Principles of Success
#1 Success Starts Within
“If you want to change the world, first change your heart.”
Success comes from the way you act. The way you act comes from the way you think and feel. Therefore, to become more successful, you must first change something within yourself.
#2 Success is a Habit
“Excellence is not a singular act, but a habit. You are what you repeatedly do.”
The little things that you do every day build on top of one another. Make a little progress towards your goals every day.
#3 Success is Only Obtainable in the Now
“The present moment is the only moment available to us and it is the door to all moments.”
Thich Nhat Hanh
We can’t experience the past or the future. So the only time a person is truly able to experience success is when they’re appreciating success in the present moment. Take time to enjoy the success of the present or you’ll never know the true meaning of the word.
There’s another reason why the present is so important, as Mahatma Gandhi points out: “The future depends on what we do in the present.”
#4 Success is in Motion
“I think if you do something and it turns out pretty good, then you should go do something else wonderful, not dwell on it for too long. Just figure out what’s next.”
Have a sip of success and it’s easy to get intoxicated. When you get so pleased with your success that all you want to do is reflect on it fondly, you’re guaranteeing that your success will be short-lived.
The only way to have permanent success is to always be moving forward. This anonymous quotation says it better than I can: “A successful man continues to look for work after he has found a job.”
#5 Success Requires Faith
“Leap and the net will appear.”
Pursuing success is challenging and risky, but your chances increase greatly when you simply believe you will succeed.
#6 Success Means Helping Others
“It’s not that successful people are givers; it is that givers are successful people.”
While it’s enjoyable to help yourself, there’s nothing more satisfying than helping others. Any true definition of success involves giving back as much as you get.
#7 Success is a Choice
“The first step toward success is taken when you refuse to be a captive of the environment in which you first find yourself.”
Your life is in your hands. So if you don’t like your situation, change it.
Each of us has the resources and the opportunity to create a better life. But we each must make the decision to do this. As an old Swedish proverb says, “God gives every bird a worm, but he does not throw it into the nest.”
#8 Perseverance is Required
“Life’s real failure is when you do not realize how close you were to success when you gave up.”
Colonel Harlan Sanders made 1008 sales call before a restaurant agreed to buy his recipe for fried chicken. If Sanders hadn’t persisted through over 1000 rejections, then KFC (a restaurant franchise with that earns about a half-billion dollars in revenue per year) wouldn’t exist.
Success is a long-term game. Be ready for the long haul.
#9 Visualization is Key
“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up some place else.”
When teaching my class to shoot basketball, our gym teacher told us to imagine the basketball going through the hoop. Surprisingly, the trick worked: visualizing a successful shot actually helped us achieve it.
It’s not magic. Visualization makes our goals more real and reminds us of the beauty of our dreams.
#10 Success Starts Today
“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant.”
Robert Louis Stevenson
No matter what your situation is, you can become a successful person today. You may not be able to reap the rewards yet, but you can start planting the seeds.