The Seven Laws of Success


“Success” is an interesting word. It’s defined by the Cambridge Dictionary as, “The achieving of the results wanted or hoped for.

Different people will define the word in different ways. Some will define success in financial terms, or career goals, or reaching an endpoint that they chose for themselves long ago.

But in most scenarios, success is arrived at when the goal is achieved. Notice how that is even built into the definition above: the achieving of the results wanted.

I can understand that line of reasoning. Success is when we actually achieve something that we set out to accomplish, right?

Maybe. But when that becomes the only definition of the word, I wonder if we miss out on its truest beauty.

Can’t success be found in simply the diligent pursuit of proper results? If we live our lives in such a way that we can look back at the end and be proud of the decisions we made, isn’t that success? Even if the results weren’t all that we wanted or hoped for?

Some might say, “No, if you didn’t achieve the results, you didn’t succeed.” But I want to define success differently in my life. Because the truth is, no matter how hard I try, I can’t control every outcome (just ask any parent).

Success, in my opinion, is controlling what I can (my actions) and dedicating my life to the right things. If I can do that, I’ll be pleased with how I chose to live. And I will consider my life a success—regardless of the results.

With that as the goal, I’d like to offer My 7 Laws of Success:

1. Choosing Our Own Values

It is easy to drift through life swayed by culture and trends and fads. Of course, taking control of our passions and pursuits is difficult. It requires introspection, silencing the noise, and a deep understanding of the world and life itself—maybe that’s why there are so many different assumptions on the meaning of life.

Regardless of what values you choose for yourself, the first essential law of living a successful life is making the effort to define your own personal values and how you want to define your life.

2. Aligning Resources with Those Values

Francis Chan said it this way, “Our greatest fear should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.”

To live a successful life, it is not enough to merely identify our greatest values. A successful life is also one that aligns our finite resources (time, energy, money) around those values. That is why I am so passionate about minimalism—the lifestyle helps us accomplish this very law.

3. Not Measuring Life With Someone Else’s Ruler

Nobody is going to live your life. And you will never live somebody else’s. Success, therefore, cannot be measured by comparing ourselves with anyone else.

We all have unique talents, skills, and experiences. We have different starting points. Even the amount of time each of us has on earth varies. It is wonderful to find inspiration in the accomplishments of others, but we should never ever use comparison to define success.

4. Committing to Continuous Growth

I’m coming up on age 50 (although I’ve still got quite a few months before I get there in December). But I’m already wondering what to write about when that day comes. I do know that if I choose to look back that day and list out the things I wish I’d done differently, “Committing earlier to personal development and growth” would be on the list.

Our lives will never reach their fullest potential until we understand and decide that we can always become better versions of ourselves. There is wisdom to be gained all around us. And becoming the best versions of ourselves will always allow us to positively impact more people.

5. Controlling Your Attention

The most important skill for the 21st Century is learning to control your own attention. With so many distractions around us constantly (if we allow them to be), learning how to keep our attention focused on things that matter is a worthy cause. Without it, we waste too much potential.

6. Living for Others

Regardless of your worldview or background, the data on this point is simply too great to ignore. People who choose to live selfless lives for the sake of others reach the end of it reporting higher levels of happiness, satisfaction, and well-being. This has been shown true over and over again. So much so, that living for others must be recognized as one of the key laws for success.

7. Doing the Next Right Thing the Best Way We Know How

In his autobiography, Theodore Roosevelt quotes Squire Bill Widener as saying, “Do what you can, with what you’ve got, where you are.” And this to me sounds like success.

The wonderful thing is that this law of success is available to anybody at any time. Regardless of where we are in life in terms of experience or education and regardless of the circumstances surrounding us or the resources available to us, we can all do the next right thing the best way we know how. Choosing that option repeatedly, over and over again, is the perfect formula for success.

Success is something that we should all pursue. It’s just not wise to measure in the same terms that the masses seem to.

Success should never be measured by the yardstick of society’s expectations. It must be measured by the values we hold and and the level of pursuit we devote to things that matters.

Let’s choose a path of intentionality where we reach the end proud of the decisions we’ve made and with fewer regrets. If we only get one life to live, we might as well make it as successful as possible.

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