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Column: What is Success

Column: What is Success

September 04, 2019

What is Success

Our definition of success determines how we use our money and our quality of life. It can be difficult to define, but too often we look to others to define it for us—people we idolize like athletes, singers, or writers.

As an example, Michael Jordan has been called the king of basketball. But after all his success, what is his life like now post-retirement? He says, “I like reminiscing. I do it more now watching basketball than anything. Man, I wish I was playing right now. I would give up everything now to go back and play the game of basketball.”

Similarly, Madonna has been called the queen of pop. But even at the height of her career, she says, “I have an iron will, and all of my will has always been to conquer some horrible feeling of inadequacy...My drive in life is from this horrible fear of being mediocre. And that’s always pushing me, pushing me. Because even though I’ve become Somebody, I still have to prove that I’m Somebody. My struggle has never ended and it probably never will.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald, the famous American novelist who wrote The Great Gatsby and several other books, is said to have drank himself to death, a victim of alcoholism and addiction.

All of these people were great at achieving certain aspects of life, mastering a certain discipline and achieving a specific goal, but none of them could say they were successful at life, and it’s this broad definition we need to understand in order to find the purpose in our financial lives.
Clay Christensen, a business professor at Harvard, has a TED talk about this. He said it is futile to try to define success from our perspective because we are limited and can only see a portion of the world. We need to find out what success is from an unlimited perspective. So for Clay, success is directly tied to your religion, your understanding of the Transcendent.

The late John Wooden, the most successful college basketball coach in history and a committed Christian, was once asked how he would define success. He replied, “Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.”

And maybe that’s it. That satisfaction is an internal reward, a peace, a contentment from the work you’ve done in serving a Grander Plan. But it should definitely be transferable from the court, to the stage, to the published book, otherwise it’s limited, tainted.

One Olympic coach said, “If you’re not enough before the gold medal, you won’t be enough with it.” The only thing worse than not having a gold medal is having it and being unsatisfied.

Adam Setser
Financial Advisor
Kerrigan Capital and Risk Management
3543 N Crossing Cir, Valdosta, GA 31602

Securities and insurance products are offered through Cetera Investment Services LLC, member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory services are offered through Cetera Investment Advisers LLC. Cetera firms are under separate ownership from any other named entity.

The opinions contained in this material are those of the author, and not a recommendation or solicitation to buy or sell investment products. This information is from sources believed to be reliable, but Cetera Investment Services LLC cannot guarantee or represent that it is accurate or complete.