Tuesday, April 24, 2018

How Do You Define Success? (Part 1 of 3)

"I want to be like you when I grow up." I've heard that comment from writers of all ages. And I understand.

"You're my role model," is another way I've heard it.

Both comments mean they've defined me as successful. And yes, I am, but it's because I've decided I'm a success.

My definition has shifted through the decades. When I began publishing articles, and before moving into books, I envisioned halos of success around those who had published a book—a real book through a royalty-paying publisher. In my mind, that author had arrived.

Then I sold my first book, followed by a second and a third. My concept of achievement changed to think anyone who had published more books than I had or produced bigger sales figures was successful. Thus, for me, professional triumph was a moving target.

At this stage of my development, I admit that I'm successful—but not for the reasons I once understood. At the end of my email signature each month, I write one of my maxims. Here's what I wrote one month: The greatest privilege I have in this life is to be exactly who I am.

Almost every morning I awaken and thank God for what I call my joyful contentment. I truly like my life and relish being who I am. Others may be (and are) more successful with larger sales, more published books, or any other measurement. And if I focused on external measures to judge whether I was a star, I'd probably say, "Not quite."

I'd always find reasons I wasn't successful.

And so will you.

But if you and I measure internally, it means we don't have to be famous, make millions, or publish 400 books during our lifetimes. If we like ourselves, embrace our work, and live with integrity intact, we're successful.

Each day I thank God for my talents. I didn't give them to myself. So what reason do I have to boast? My task is to be faithful in using my gifts.


  1. Thank you for your insightful post, Mr. Murphey! I enjoyed reading it. :)

    I define success as fulfilling God's will for my life. When I think of His command to bear much fruit, I think of the fruit of the Holy Spirit. To love God, to love my neighbor, and to fulfill the calling God has placed on my life---these to me are the essence of success. But I cannot accomplish this at all in my own strength or my own power. My daily prayer is that Jesus Christ will live through this "earthen vessel" that I am.

    Blessings to you!

    MaryAnn Diorio

  2. Thanks for your comments. I sense we're all saying essentially the same thing: WE get to define personal success, instead of bein defined by a label.

    1. Cec, I'd love to know how you moved from success being a moving target to embracing each morning with gratitude for the gift you've been given. It's easy for me to know that gratitude is the healthy and godly perspective, but hard for me to keep my focus there, especially when I feel my hard work leads a little audience. Yet, I've always told myself to be satisfied with an audience of one. I know I'm in process, and I'm learning to trust God in the process. But was there something intentional you practiced to keep your heart and mind healthy and focused?


What are your thoughts?