“Success is really nothing more than the progressive realization of a worthy ideal. This means that any person who knows what they are doing and where they are going is a success. Any person with a goal towards which they are working is a successful person.” — Earl Nightingale, quoted in the Philosopher’s Note on “The Strangest Secret”.
“Any person with a goal towards which they are working is a successful person.”
“… with a goal towards which they are working…”
“… working… ”
Not “any person who has achieved a goal that they have worked for.”
“Any person with a goal towards which they are working…”
I honestly don’t like the first sentence of the above quote – “Success is really nothing more than the progressive realization of a worthy ideal.” As a matter of fact, this post was originally going to be a full on criticism of it.
Here’s that criticism in a nutshell – I (as well as many others who I’ve learned this from) are redefining success. Success has very little to do with a destination (realization). It’s all about the action we take toward that destination. As a matter of fact, we never have to reach the destination, as long as we are taking action – long, short, clean, messy, whatever kind of action – toward that destination.
I realized that not only was I was reading the quote out of context, I was completely ignoring the “progressive” part of it. The full quote really explains what is meant by that.
Nightingale was right, according to the definition that I’ve created and decided to use:
“Success is constructive, consistent action toward a worthy ideal/goal.”
The first key is “a worthy ideal.” Only you can define what is worthy. Is it a strong meditation practice? A million dollars? The next game changing app? Starting a charity dedicated to a cause you care about? All of the above?
Key number two is constructive action. Watching TV is an action, but it (usually) isn’t constructive and (usually) won’t get you anywhere near your worthy ideal – unless your goal is to watch a shitload of TV. If that’s the case… get a new goal! (I know, I know, only you can define what’s worthy – but come on!)
Key number three: consistent action. You don’t get healthy by eating one salad or working out one time. You don’t write a novel by writing 3 pages and then never going back to it. You’ve gotta be consistent. The consistent action can be small (as a matter of fact, it should be in the beginning – see The Slight Edge and Mini Habits for more info), but action has to be taken on a consistent basis for it to be a success.
So… What’s your ideal? What constructive action will you take today toward achieving that ideal? How will you ensure that the action is consistent?
Let us know in the comments section below.