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What Success Is Not

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet.

Success isn’t easy. This is why a lot of people don’t achieve the level of success they desire.

Success isn’t fast. This is why many people quit too early.

Success isn’t certain. This is why many never begin.

Success is not someone else’s definition of success. This is why some don’t realize they have it or pursue the wrong path.

Success is not a straight line. This is why some give up.

Success is not for the lazy and unmotivated. This is why they will never get close.

Success is not for the uncourageous. It takes an act of courage.

Success is not for those who are afraid to get their hands dirty. It’s not for prima-donnas.

Success is not for those who avoid conflict. It only comes with adversity.

Success is not for those that aren’t willing to do the work. It’s the only path and its own reward.

Success is not for those that wait for permission. It’s for those who to take action.

Success is not for those that believe their critics or their raving fans. It’s not about your press clippings.

Here is what success is.


How do you define success?

What is success?

What makes success so elusive for so many?



  • Ryan Biddulph

    You must work intelligently and persistently to succeed.

  • Ajax Woolley

    This feels like a validation; I kept looking for a criteria that felt beyond reach, but this all seems very reasonable. The recipe itself is wonderful; it doesn’t evoke the imagery of “race-running” like so many similar lists.

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      We’re all really running our own race, aren’t we, Ajax?

  • Evan Light

    Have to fight for success. There’s always someone nipping at
    your heels or stealing your work. On top of that you are held to the highest
    standards when your competition seems to find all the loop holes. Not saying I
    don’t enjoy business but it’s always a shot to the kidney when someone steps in
    with unlimited resources and starts doing what you took years to accomplish in
    a few short weeks. Success for some is achieved in a much different way.

  • John Dodson

    In my opinion, Success is not a destination but rather, a journey.


    I like the way Earl Nightingale defined success: “When someone is doing something because that’s what they deliberately want to do.”

  • Anna DiTommaso

    Nice post. Reminds me of the fact that people often give up right before they are about to make a major breakthrough. Resiliency does not always equal success, but it is certainly hard to come by success without resiliency.

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