Defining Success Essay

Defining Success

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            Success, like other abstract and complex ideas, is difficult to define as the measures and characterization of success vary for different individuals in different situations, constituting diverse sets of mind. Success is dependent on particular situations, the motivations for labeling something as a success, the priorities of individuals, as well as the life-long goals and objectives that set or guide the path that individuals take. Laura Nash and Howard Stevenson have written a book that discusses the dimensions of success in four aspects – success as a source of happiness, success as a sense of achievement, success as a means of gaining significance or importance, and success as a channel to leave a legacy. (Goossen, 2004) The remainder of this text will discuss the points of view presented by Nash and Stevenson, as well as the direct interpretation of Nash of the contents of the book through an interview with Ryan Goossen, in defining the range and real meaning of success despite the diverse take of individuals on the matter.

            Since the “growth spurt” of the economic situation and the various improvements incorporated to the lifestyle of human beings in order to cope up with modernization, numerous individuals have felt the strain of a booming economy that fuels their drive to exhaust themselves in work. This is because individuals felt the need to maintain and sustain economic developments by contributing to the efficiency and productivity of corporate organizations. Although the idea of becoming productive in the workplace seems to be commonplace to individuals, the amount of satisfaction and self-fulfillment that they obtain from working too hard does not seem to meet their expectations of success. (Nash & Stevenson, 2004) With this in mind, we realize that obtaining work and becoming productive in the workplace is not the real measure of success.

            Added to this idea, the real meaning of success for Nash and Stevenson touches up on the issue of the discontentment of human beings in things or situations that define their lives. The development and expansion of the economic and social situation have led to the widening of the possibilities to success. Nash and Stevenson called this phenomenon “limitless expansion” which redefines success as always doing, having, or being something more than the normal or standard human situations. (Nash & Stevenson, 2004) This discontentment established the motivation for Nash and Stevenson to write the book, as a means to set the limits of success to something that is “just enough.”

            In Nash’s interview with Goossen, she reiterated the difference between success as a “limitless expansion” and “just enough.” Although the concept of limitless expansion to success seems to follow a fraction of idealism, it does little to satisfy individuals and make them feel the real meaning of success, which also constitutes happiness and contentment. “Just enough” success, on the other hand, satiates the desire of the people to obtain something that lasts –  a feeling of success that will not be overshadowed by other desires or aspirations. (Goossen, 2004)

            The satisfaction or contentment that individuals might draw out from success is obtained through the happiness, achievement, significance and legacy. These four experiences explicate what individuals want to obtain from experiencing success. In addition, the four experiences aforementioned will be able to satisfy an individual’s extreme craving for success. In order for individuals to be able to follow the concept of “just enough” success, freeing them from the bonds of extreme responsibilities to themselves and other people, Nash and Stevenson formulated a model that contains a step-by-step process by which individuals and organizations alike will be able to follow in order to limit how they see success into a realistic and rational understanding of how success should work. (Nash & Stevenson, 2004)

            First, individuals and organizations should be able to put into order, according to priority, the four expected outcomes of success. According to the order of priorities on happiness, achievement, significant, and legacy, individuals and organizations are guided on the path or direction that they will take in order to realize the success that they desire. (Nash & Stevenson, 2004) If for instance one wants to pursue happiness as a means to success, then he should be able to do the things that make him happy, such as personal interests or hobbies, and such. On the other hand, if individuals are expecting legacy as a means to establish one’s life to experience success, then he should focus on doing something momentous that will serve as his legacy, transforming the people around him or even society as a whole.

            Second, “just enough” success requires the setting of boundaries and limitations on how one’s satisfaction and successes are to be acted upon. In addition, it should look into the possibility of formulating various ideals or expectations of success that will constitute multiple kinds of success. This is otherwise known as the kaleidoscope strategy. (Nash & Stevenson, 2004) The establishment of multiple kinds of successes under the four fields aforementioned prevents discontentment by motivating individuals to set limited goals of success in various fields or industries that are “just enough” to make them happy, accomplished, significant, and momentous.

            Third, individuals should be able to know themselves inside and out. Understanding one’s own personality, features or characteristics, nature, drives or motivations, and such, allows individuals to formulate a clear set of goals or objectives that will guide the realization of success. (Nash & Stevenson, 2004) Knowing oneself allows the understanding of particular needs and wants, talents and capabilities, etc. With this kind of information, individuals are able to know the things that they should do or change in order to succeed, or allow themselves to accept who they are in terms of the level of success that they will be able to accomplish.

            Fourth, individuals need to learn how to manipulate available resources and use time wisely in order to accomplish basic desires. (Nash & Stevenson, 2004) The “just enough” concept of success in this situation looks into innovation and creativity as a means to address the realization of success. In addition, it has something to do with how individuals will be able to available resources and time to their advantage, in terms of their ability to accomplish set goals and objectives that define their personal perceptions and beliefs of success.

            The four expectations of success and the other four thoughts that dictate how individuals should go about transforming their takes and points of view on success in order to break apart from a life that does not offer peace and contentment in terms of the realization of success and stability. The overall purpose of the book was to establish a brand or group of people that are not bounded by expected and prescribed roles and responsibilities, but are motivated by their desire to build on a meaningful life situation within the milieu of peace and contentment. In addition, the “just enough” concept of success, as presented by Nash and Stevenson, was an attempt to redefine the meaning of life for human beings, veering away from the demands of development and modernization, and staying true to the real meaning of life and success.


Goossen, R. (2004). Just Enough: Tools for Creating Success in Your Work and Life.

            Retrieved December 5, 2008, from The Journal of Business Strategy. Website:   

Nash, L. & Stevenson, H. (2004). Just Enough: Tools for Creating Success in Your Work and Life. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons. Retrieved December 5, 2008, from Google. Website:,M1

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