Measuring success and what it means is something we all do. At the moment, Nathan and I are trying to define what success means to us on a number of different levels.

For instance we seek success as a family in challenging ourselves to try new things. Our latest challenge is to go on a trip as a family. Success will no doubt be measured by our overall enjoyment of the holiday and the relative stress levels of the trip. Admittedly these are fleeting and somewhat hard to measure ideas.

Meanwhile I’m striving for success as a work-at-home professional which will ultimately be measured by income created (as ultimately I’m trying to create an income from home). Although there is also a case for success to be measured in terms of increased personal happiness and work satisfaction instead.

Whatever your focus in life, achievement is duly measured in terms of success.  But is success everything in life? Should it really be the measure for everything? What about measuring achievement instead in terms of effort, persistence or dedication?

is success really everything?

This TedTalk by art historian and writer, Sarah Lewis, turns traditional ideas of success on its head. Instead of asking how do we become successful, she asks a different question – why is success so desired and valued when it is a one-off phenomenon, a mere moment in time? In her thinking, mastery of a subject should be more valued than success as a ‘near win’ pushes us to continually do better. moreso than the euphoria of a one-off success.

According to Sarah, seeing the value of the ‘near-win’ increases our desire to improve our skill. We then strive to do better and ultimately achieve greater mastery.

Success certainly provides motivation but a near win can propel us forward to even greater heights. In the end we thrive when we know we still have more to do.

I think there is a lot of truth in this. Honestly, where do you go when you feel you have achieved everything?

Which then begs the question – is success really everything in life? Should we be instead focusing on achieving mastery through effort, dedication, persistence and determination?

I know I will re-evaluating my idea of success after viewing this talk – will you?