How many times have these words appeared on Christmas and New Year’s cards? Practically everyone receives at least a few of them each year, yet  how many of us ever pause long enough to ponder the true meaning of the words?

Because Man is a competitive, as well as a gregarious creature, the concept of ‘success’ has been a strongly motivating factor. both in his thinking and in his actions. For the majority of persons it is, consciously or unconsciously, one of the cardinal principles of life, and for some, it is the only one!

The person who feels that he is succeeding can be content, even in the most rigorous and trying environment, while one who feels he is failing may be quite miserable, even in the lap of luxury. We do, of course, incorporate into our philosophy, certain sayings such as, “It is not whether you win or lose that counts, but how you played the game!” Such sayings are however, usually ignored by those who believe they are winning, and are only considered to be useful as a form of consolation to those who do not. This fact has given rise to other sayings such as, “Nothing succeeds like success.” and, “Success seldom questions the manner of its achievement.”

A problem exists in the fact that, with all of the emphasis upon, and constant struggle for success, the word itself has never been very precisely or very ‘successfully’ defined. Concepts of success are sim­ilar to human fingerprints, in that, while everyone has them, they dif­fer somewhat in each individual. For example – To the politician, suc­cess means receiving more votes than his opponent. To the criminal it means finding and acquiring a satisfactory amount of loot without being caught. To the Criminal Attorney, success is enabling the criminal who has been caught, to escape the penalty for his crime, etc. In all­ most any usage of the word success however, it implies a level of achievement somewhat above the ‘average‘ or the ‘norm’, but, since almost everyone strives for ‘success’ in one form or other, it fol­lows that the ‘average’ person is one who spends his life trying to prove, to the world, that he is not!

Although the individual may derive inward satisfaction from the belief that he is succeeding, his ego will seldom permit him to rest until he has persuaded his neighbors, his community or the world at large, to recognize his achievements. For this purpose it is, of course, necessary to establish some criteria by which success can be recognized, and the degree of success measured. Dictionaries give but little help here. (Of the three which the writer has in his office, the most significant definition found was – SUCCESS – l. a favorable result; wished for ending. 2. the gaining of wealth, position, etc.) The latter is the most commonly used measure of success since the acquisition of wealth is a highly competitive activity its achievement is considered by many to be evidence of superiority. The social position or public status of the individual, and the power or influence that he or she exercises, are also considered, by most to be evidence of success, although both of these are frequently, though not necessarily, the by-product of wealth.

A philosopher once said, “The true success of any person can be truly judged only by the words engraved upon their tomb!”

This writer had a slightly different idea when, at the age of 16, he wrote in his ‘Notebook of Junior Philosophy’ the following words­ “Erect no monument to me when I am gone! For if a block of marble in the public square is needed to remind folks that I once lived, then indeed my life has been in vain!”

Whatever your hopes and goals for the New Year, we sincerely wish you the best and most lasting SUCCESS and HAPPINESS!

   (signed Daniel W. Fry)