How important is success?

Dr Alan Jones PhD FRSA
2 min readAug 17, 2022

Thoughts on Success

We all live in a time where “success” seems to measure an individual’s worthiness.

The question must be how we define success and, more importantly, who defines success for us. An over-emphasis on material success at the expense of emotional or spiritual success could be considered a particular issue in today’s world.

Success is the progressive realisation of predetermined, worthwhile, personal goals. -Paul J. Meyer

The Secret of Success

A boy once asked a wise old man what the secret to success is.

After listening to the boy’s question, the wise man told the boy to meet him at the river in the morning, and he would be given the answer there.

In the morning, the wise man and the boy began walking toward the river. They continued on into the river, past the point of the water covering their nose and mouth. At this time, the wise man ducked the boy into the water.

As he struggled to get out, the wise man continued to push him further down. The boy felt a fish slip by his leg and squirmed to get up even harder. The man eventually pulled the boy’s head up so he could get air. The boy gasped as he inhaled a deep breath of air.

The wise man said,

‘What were you fighting for when you were underwater?”

The boy replied, “Air!”

The man said,

“There, you have the secret to success. When you want to gain success as much as you wanted air when you were underwater, you will obtain it. That’s the only secret.”

That sounds like a pretty aggressive lesson.

The point, however, is well made. More relevantly, there is a hidden message here too.

To be alive and breathing is being successful!

The problem comes when we start comparing our “level of success” with that of others.

There will always be wealthier, healthier and more spiritual people than ourselves.

There will be some who look at and judge us as being wealthier, healthier and more spiritual than they are.

Its all relative, after all. Yet we often feel that to be truly happy, we need to be like others who appear to be happier than ourselves.

It’s all a game with changing rules and shifting goalposts.


Because we often define success by the standards of others, success is something external to our being.

Perhaps if there was something we desire as much as air that would be thing to really strive for.

Alan /|\

Mid Week Musings are published every Wednesday on my blog.

Originally published at on August 17, 2022.



Dr Alan Jones PhD FRSA

Director of Elyn Bres writing about personal development, the mind, spirituality and future histories. Elyn Bres is Cornish for Clear Mind