September 2015: What Does “Success” Look Like To You?

This month I ran across quite a few articles on things that successful people do and don’t do. I am going to share those. But, first, I wanted to mention what happened. When I ran across the first two articles, I got excited to write about success and the things people do. Especially persistence. But then – I realized these are about wealthy people habits – it caused me to reflect on exactly what is success. Like a lot of people I mistakenly tend to define success in terms of career achievements or monetary success vs. some of the things that are actually the most important in life.


When I discuss goals with folks they often put at the top that the most important thing in life is being a good Dad/Mom and husband/wife. Why then do we focus on our job title, status, income, and the car we drive? Why are we in the office Friday night instead of on a date with our spouse? Why did we miss the soccer playoffs our daughter is in for the second year in a row? Years back I heard a decent piece of advice on work/life balance: At work it is quality of time. At home, it is quantity of time. Your kid doesn’t care what you are doing together – being together is QUALITY time to them.


So, before you read on and see what I or others have to say about the topic, take a few moments to think through in a few words or sentences how YOU define success in life?  Are your priorities and daily activities aligned?  If you are like most people – perhaps not. I always remember the story about Bronnie Ware, an Australian nurse who spent several years working in palliative care, who wrote a book and summarized basically that no one ever gets to their death bed and says they wish they had worked harder or made more money. Instead they wish they had spent more time with friends and family, or tried new things. – Food for thought.


I have written before about value and principles that I hope to teach and emphasis with my three boys including GRIT, 11 Leadership Principles, and Lessons from Eagles Scouts. But this is the first time I am really taking a step back to think about how do I help them (and myself in the process) define success overall. It immediately bought me to this poem often misattributed to Emerson but written by Bessie A. Stanley around 1904:


To laugh often and love much;

to win the respect of intelligent persons and the affection of children;

to earn the approbation of honest citizens and endure the betrayal of false friends;

to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to give of one’s self;

to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;

to have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation;

to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived—this is to have succeeded


So while many of the articles and advice that I will point out here focus on wealth and business success, I do believe that most of the points still apply to success in life regardless of definition. So please move past their titles and judge the advice at face value. The one thing I didn’t notice on any of these lists which I think is key is travel. I think that travelling and being exposed to various cultures and people will lead to a broader understanding, perspective and appreciation for life. If you ever get a chance to life in a foreign country – say for 1-3 years – I say take it!




Why one university is trying to get Merriam-Webster to change its definition of ‘success’ via Business Insider

According to Merriam-Webster, success is “the fact of getting or achieving wealth, respect, or fame.” However, a 2014 survey found that a whopping 90% of Americans believed that success is more about happiness than power, possessions, or prestige. In total, 67% said they associate success with achieving personal goals; 66% defined success as having “good relationships with friends and family”; and 60% said it’s about “loving what you do for a living.” Only one in five respondents cited monetary wealth.   “This indicates a clear change in the way Americans are thinking about their personal journey. It’s no longer about the car or the house. Instead, people are focused on leading a fulfilling life, whether that means finding a better career, achieving personal goals, or spending more time with their families.”   The goal is to expand the dictionary’s definition to: “Happiness derived from good relationships and the attainment of personal goals.”


7 Habits of the World’s Richest People via Inc

Wealthy successful people exhibit different behaviors and attributes from people living in poverty. What are those characteristics? Here are 7, arrived at from 5 years of observations.

  1. They’re persistent.
  2. They set attainable goals.
  3. They find a career mentor.
  4. They are positive.
  5. They educate themselves.
  6. They track their progress.
  7. They surround themselves with success-oriented people.


20 Things the Rich Do Everyday via Dave Ramsey

So what do the rich do every day that the poor don’t do? Tom Corley, on his website, outlines a few of the differences between the habits of the rich and the poor.

  1. 70% of wealthy eat less than 300 junk food calories per day. 97% of poor people eat more than 300 junk food calories per day. 23% of wealthy gamble. 52% of poor people gamble.
  2. 80% of wealthy are focused on accomplishing some single goal. Only 12% of the poor do this.
  3. 76% of wealthy exercise aerobically four days a week. 23% of poor do this.
  4. 63% of wealthy listen to audio books during commute to work vs. 5% of poor people.
  5. 81% of wealthy maintain a to-do list vs. 19% of poor.
  6. 63% of wealthy parents make their children read two or more non-fiction books a month vs. 3% of poor.
  7. 70% of wealthy parents make their children volunteer 10 hours or more a month vs. 3% of poor.
  8. 80% of wealthy make Happy Birthday calls vs. 11% of poor.
  9. 67% of wealthy write down their goals vs. 17% of poor.
  10. 88% of wealthy read 30 minutes or more each day for education or career reasons vs. 2% of poor.
  11. 6% of wealthy say what’s on their mind vs. 69% of poor.
  12. 79% of wealthy network five hours or more each month vs. 16% of poor.
  13. 67% of wealthy watch one hour or less of TV every day vs. 23% of poor.
  14. 6% of wealthy watch reality TV vs. 78% of poor.
  15. 44% of wealthy wake up three hours before work starts vs. 3% of poor.
  16. 74% of wealthy teach good daily success habits to their children vs. 1% of poor.
  17. 84% of wealthy believe good habits create opportunity luck vs. 4% of poor.
  18. 76% of wealthy believe bad habits create detrimental luck vs. 9% of poor.
  19. 86% of wealthy believe in lifelong educational self-improvement vs. 5% of poor.
  20. 86% of wealthy love to read vs. 26% of poor.


5 Things Millionaires Do That Most People Don’t via Entrepreneur

  1. Millionaires work hard.
  2. Millionaires are focused.
  3. Millionaires are careful about risk.
  4. Millionaires are generous.
  5. Millionaires never stop learning.


Are You Predisposed to Success? These 6 ‘genes’ make up the DNA of successful people via Success

  1. They have a predisposition to setting high, lofty goals.
  2. They have an ability to focus intently on reaching those goals.
  3. They have the willingness to sacrifice to succeed.
  4. They have tenacity.
  5. They have a heightened self-awareness.
  6. They have a desire to help others achieve, too.


9 things rich people do and don’t do every day via Business Insider

Also based upon the research of Tom Corley


  1. Rich people always keep their goals in sight.
    “I focus on my goals every day.”
    Rich people who agree: 62%, Poor people who agree: 6%
  2. They know what needs to be done today.
    “I maintain a daily to-do list.”
    Rich people who agree: 81%, Poor people who agree: 19%
  3. They don’t watch TV.
    “I watch TV one hour or less per day.”
    Rich people who agree: 67%, Poor people who agree: 23%
  4. They read … but not for fun.
    “I love reading.”
    Rich people who agree: 86%, Poor people who agree: 26%
  5. Plus, they’re big into audio books.
    “I listen to audio books during the commute to work.”
    Rich people who agree: 63%, Poor people who agree: 5%
  6. They make a point of going above and beyond at the office.
    “I do more than my job requires.”
    Rich people who agree: 81% , Poor people who agree: 17%
  7. They aren’t hoping to win the jackpot.
    “I play the lottery regularly.”
    Rich people who agree: 6%, Poor people who agree: 77%
  8. They watch their waistline.
    “I count calories every day.”
    Rich people who agree: 57%, Poor people who agree: 5%
  9. They take care of their smiles.
    “I floss every day.”
    Rich people who agree: 62%, Poor people who agree: 16%


16 Rich Habits via Success

  1. Live within your means.
  2. Don’t gamble.
  3. Read every day.
  4. Forget the boob tube and spend less time surfing the Internet.
  5. Control your emotions.
  6. Network and volunteer regularly.
  7. Go above and beyond in work and business.
  8. Set goals, not wishes.
  9. Avoid procrastination.
  10. Talk less and listen more.
  11. Avoid toxic people.
  12. Don’t give up.
  13. Set aside the self-limiting beliefs holding you back.
  14. Get a mentor.
  15. Eliminate “bad luck” from your vocabulary.
  16. Know your main purpose.


Believe it or not, finding this purpose is easy. Here’s the process:

a. Make a list of everything you can remember that made you happy.

b. Highlight those items on your list that involve a skill, and identify that skill.

c. Rank the top 10 highlighted items in the order of joy they bring to you. Whatever makes you happiest of all gets 10 big points.

d. Now rank the top 10 highlighted items in terms of their income potential. The most lucrative skill of all is worth 10 points.

e. Total the two ranked columns. The highest score represents a potential main purpose in your life. Presto!


- Tom Deierlein


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