Success: What it is and What It's Not

I’ve found this to be true: If you want to feel successful, make sure you have the correct view of what success is. I wrote a post about this a while back called, “Success doesn’t feel like success“.

I don’t know about you, but I can find myself getting very discouraged about my life when I view success improperly.

However, I have found that when I evaluate my life in the proper view of success, I realize that I am already more successful than I could ever imagine. 

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The other day I did an exercise in my journal that I want to encourage you to do as well. I made two lists:

1.) What Success is Not – This list is a list of things that if I’m not careful, I can start to measure my value and worth by. When I start to define success based on this list, I find myself discouraged.

Here is my list of what Success is NOT: 

  • How many speaking opportunities I have
  • How many people know and and respect me
  • Who I get to spend time with
  • Where I work
  • How much money I raise
  • How many people attend our events
  • How many people visit my blog or listen to my podcast
  • How much money we have in the bank
  • Where we get to travel
  • How many times I get promoted
  • How good of shape I am in
  • How good someone says my sermons or talks are
  • Where I live
  • My position/title
  • My accomplishments
  • How much content I produce

2.) What Success is – This is a list of things that I want to measure my life by. This is the list that if at the end of my life I didn’t get this list right, then I didn’t get life right! In the end, this list is all that matters, and it’s the only list that I should measure my success by.

Here is my list of what Success is: 

  • Doing what God called me to do
  • Loving God and loving people
  • Being a great husband to Laura
  • Creating memories that last a lifetime with the people I love most
  • Raising world-changing kids (one day!)
  • Doing the best I can to become the best I can be
  • Making a difference in the lives of others
  • Growing to my maximum potential
  • Who I am in Christ
  • Knowing my purpose in life

Those are my lists. They clearly define what success is and what success is not in my life. I encourage you to make your own.

If you find that you are discouraged often, it’s because you’re measuring your value, worth, and success inaccurately. 

When you properly define success in your life, you will find that you are way more successful, valuable, and worthy than you think you are! 

As you start to define what success is to you, I want to share three of my favorite quotes about success:

Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming. -John Wooden 

Success means having those closest to me love and respect me the most. -John Maxwell

Success in life is: 1.) Knowing my purpose in life 2.) Growing to my maximum potential 3.) Sowing seeds to benefit others. -John Maxwell


  • What is your definition of success?
  • Make your two lists and ask yourself:
    • Have I been using the wrong metrics to measure success?
  • When you find yourself discouraged, go back to your list of what success is. I think you will find yourself encouraged and reminded of what’s actually important.
  • If you’ve been focused too much on the wrong list, start to focus your attention and energy on the right list!

Thoughts? Comment below!

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