Secrets of Success

For use with Talking Point worksheets

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Secrets of Success

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What is success?
Success is a word which probably has as many definitions as there are people to define it. It means something different to every one of us, often changing with age, context and circumstances.

Attempts have been made to define success from the earliest of times: in ancient Greece Aeschylus said, "When a man is willing and eager, the gods join in." In Ecclesiastes in the Bible it says, "Take time to work – it is the price of success." William Menninger said that "The six essential qualities that are the key to success (are): sincerity, personal integrity, humility, courtesy, wisdom (and) charity," whereas novelist Pearl S. Buck thought that "The secret joy in work is contained in one word – excellence. To know how to do something well is to enjoy it." However, often it can seem as though success is due to large doses of luck – being in the right place at the right time or simply having the right numbers on your lottery ticket!

If you do a search on the internet for "success definition" you will find that it means "the achievement of something desired, planned or attempted" – an accurate definition for some, no doubt, but one that leaves us none the wiser as to how to achieve it.

How to be Successful
Look in any reputable bookshop and you will find a wide range of books on how to be successful at work, at home, in yourself and in life in general. They sell well – apparently we would all like to achieve success in some areas of our lives. In fact there is so much advice offered on achieving success that it can be hard to sort through it all.

The "secrets of success" range from the obvious (such as setting yourself challenging but achievable goals, writing them down, knowing yourself, living according to your values, taking responsibility for yourself and reacting positively and flexibly to feedback) to the seemingly banal or even ridiculous: get adequate sleep, drink lots of water, never eat alone.

A key factor, often overlooked, is how you will measure your success: at which points on your path to your goal are you going to pat yourself on the back, smile at yourself in the mirror and say "Well done!" Not only that, but what will you do once you have achieved your aim? Will you bask in glory or set yourself another target?

The Disadvantages of Success
In the West, having a successful lifestyle often means having material goods such as a large house (or two), a large car (or two), private schooling for the children, designer clothes, foreign holidays in exotic locations (winter and summer), all mod cons. However, it could be argued that this emphasis on financial and material success can lead to people becoming locked into an unfulfilling lifestyle, albeit a luxury one, working harder and harder to become more and more successful financially in order to buy more and more luxury items.
But is this necessarily a bad thing? Don't we all want to do well in life...?

Quick Quiz
Read the clues below and write the solutions on a piece of paper. Then take the first letter of each answer and rearrange them to find the hidden word connected with this Talking Point.

1. There is so much advice offered on achieving success that it ________ be hard to sort through it all.

2. Pearl S. Buck thought that ________ was a key factor.

3. William Menninger said that there were ________ essential qualities which formed the key to success.

4. Success has been defined as the achievement of something ________ planned or attempted.

5. Success means something different to every one of us, often ________ with age, context and circumstances.

6. The emphasis on financial and material success can lead to people becoming locked into an ________ lifestyle, albeit a luxury one.

7. Aeschylus thought that it was important for a man to be willing and ________.
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