The Definition of Success Essay

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What is success? How does one succeed in life? A few moments' thought will convince us that the question is by no means an easy one to answer. We say this, that, or the other man is successful, but what do we mean by it? One man has houses and lands, has a large bank account, drives fast horses and has many apparent friends, such a man is accounted successful. Yet all of these things that minister to his pleasure have been acquired by unremitting labor, by hard, avaricious dealings with his fellow-men, by trampling upon the hearts and affections of thousands; in the face of these facts is the man a successful one?

The question will be answered differently, according; to the views of life of the one answering it. Some think wealth is the
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The man who becomes wealthy is in a measure successful, but only so far as the acquirement sharpens his intellect, broadens his powers, and develops him into a self-reliant, powerful member of society for its good. Selfish wealth is never good. One may be a millionaire, but if with it comes greed, avarice, oppression of others, the success is small indeed. Scattered along the path of life we find examples of men whose success brought them fame and glory and proved an unqualified blessing to all mankind. . . .

[Scientist Louis] Aggasiz was at one time importuned to go upon the lecture platform and make money out of his vast knowledge as a naturalist. His reply will be ever memorable: “I have no time to make money.” Such a man would be hooted at on Wall Street by the men who speculate in the earnings of others and imagine themselves the great business men of this age. Yet whose success is greatest, that of Louis Agassiz standing among his pupils . . . teaching them the secrets of nature, or that of Jay Gould heaping together millions wrung from the failure of thousands of his fellows? One rests secure in a pure fame, the other is hated and feared by his neighbors and at the last will have been simply notorious.

There is one criterion by which success can be fairly measured,

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