Everyone pursues success in one field of endeavour or the other. Success means different things to different people.

This presentation looks at what exactly success is, how different people define it, why people are congenitally fastidious, and what chart to pursue for yourself in order to be happy.


  • How some define success
  • Questions which people answer "yes" to mean success
  • Presenters view of failure
  • Success is relative: each one with his/her definition?
  • Don’t be confused with someone’s definition; follow yours, be happy
  • What the research shows

How some define success

Different people define success differently. Let’s look at the following definitions;

  • Success is the thing one receives on the road to a goal
  • Success is moving towards your dreams and vision, e.g. moving from dependence to independence
  • Success is growth in a chosen endeavour
  • Success is overcoming a challenge (either internally/personally or externally imposed on you), e.g.
    • Passing an exam (WAEC, Graduating with a respectful class, attaining PMP credential, etc.)
    • Passing a job interview, promotion at work, etc.
    • Achieving growth, profitability for your business, winning a contract, etc
    • Overcoming a bad habit , i.e. drunkenness, womanizing, smoking, drug addiction, etc
    • Overcoming a delinquent child
    • Dealing with personal relationship problems with your friends and family
    • Acquiring a new skill, i.e. landing an aircraft, driving, cycling, etc.
  • Success is the attainment of personal goals worth gratifying. This could be
    • Happiness
    • Good health
    • Healthy relationship with family and friends
    • Making a meaningful difference: in your community, your chosen career, etc.

Questions which people answer "yes" to mean success

Do you answer "yes" to the following questions? Is that your definition of success?

  • Is it about the size of your bank account?
  • Is it the title of your job?
  • Is it the schools your children attend?
  • Is it the size, glamour, and location of your house?
  • Is it about the make and model of the car you drive?
  • Is it how prestigious the firm you work for is?
  • Is it the number of awards and accolades you have won?

My views on failure

Some simply think success is the opposite of failure. For them success is day, while failure is night; success is light, while failure is darkness.

I don’t share that opinion. Failure should not be viewed in that light. Failure is an event that leaves a taste of bad memories in our minds. We can get over it just as we get over any bad taste on our lips and tongue. Failure is just a lesson that tells us "how not to succeed".

It tells us that, either the wrong ladder is being used to climb to the wall of success, or the ladder is leaning against the wrong wall. And so, when we fail, we just have to evaluate the course we took and choose the right path which will take us to our destination (success).

Success is relative: Each one has his/her definition

Success means different things to different people and cultures. Success can mean different things to the same person during different periods or under different circumstances. Take these examples:

  • Before the 1980s, success in my village of Sandema, was measured in number of cattle ranches one had or how large his family was, etc. People gainfully employed in the formal sector were not regarded as successful. Fast forward to 2000 and beyond, success is measured in how formal your job is; title of your job position, a 2-5 bedroom house, and a saloon car.
  • Even as Project managers, our stake holders define project success differently:
  • an architect may consider success in terms of aesthetic appearance,
  • an engineer in terms of technical competence,
  • an accountant in terms of dollars spent under budget,
  • the human resources manager in terms of employee satisfaction.
  • Chief executive officers rate their project success in terms of stock market performance

Don’t be confused with someone’s definition; follow yours, be happy

  • You can be a successful family person but a poor worker; you can be a successful engineer with poor human engineering skills. You can’t be everything to everybody. Know yourself and what you want.
  • Pursue the things that matter to you most, anything short of that, you’re pursuing a mirage. Things that matter could be;
  • Do not copy blindly, set your targets according to your interests and strengths
  • Note that, not all CEOs or superstars are the happy; you can be happy where your talents are stronger.
  • Successful career
  • Successful family
  • Successful political life
  • Media fame, etc.

What the research shows

A research conducted by IPSOS on behalf of Strayer University (USA) revealed the following statistics on what people consider as success. They gave these weights to the measures below:

67% -personal goals and achievement

66% - Good Relationship with family and friends

60% - loving what they do for a living

20% monetary wealth, power and fame

A whooping 90% believe success is more about happiness than wealth, power, prestige, fame, etc.

What does that tell us? ''People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing.'' - Dale Carnegie. Most importantly, success should ultimately lead to some inner or outer satisfaction or both.


One thing is clear; there is tremendous need in today’s world to be successful.

Personally, I prefer to raise the level of my whole life experience than to pursue a billionaire status

I also, apply the Pareto principle of resource reallocation in my classification of success. I don’t just look for crowns for my head; I am more concern about not soiling my hands in the process. Whatever you call success should contribute positively either to yourself or to your community.


About the presenter


Patrick Adjaab Akan-yidi is a process coordinator at Barclays Bank Ghana. He is a professional teacher and a passionate presenter.He is also an adjunct lecturer at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA).

Patrick is a project management professional. He is currently the director of membership services at the Project Management Institute, Ghana Chapter.