What Does Success Look Like?

by Ken Vincent, Featured Contributor

IF YOU ask me how deep a  hole is, I can get a tape measure and then answer the question.  If you ask me what success looks like though there is no standard tape measure.  So how does one answer that question?  What tool is available to measure it?  Can it only be measured against failure?

successful-entrepreneurIf I get a raise, or secure that coveted promotion is that success, and not getting them failure?  Not necessarily.  What if I get the promotion but fail at it, or hate it and leave?  I was successful in getting the job, but did that represent success?

I’m sure that someone will say that success is measured by happiness.  Really?  How often are we happy with some segment of our life but very unhappy with another?  Is anyone totally  happy all of the time?  If not, does that make us all failures?

Obviously success is a concept.  It doesn’t have physical dimensions, no smell, no texture, and no time definition.  It is clearly different for each person.  What makes it even more elusive is that our concept of success changes from time to time.  So success becomes a moving target, in a fast changing world, that has no characteristics by which we can handle it.

So how do you measure success?  Is that measurement the same for you as that which you apply to others?


Ken Vincent
Ken Vincent
KEN is a 46 year veteran hotelier and entrepreneur. Formerly owned two hotels, an advertising agency, a wholesale tour company, a POS company, a leasing company, and a hotel management company. The hotels included chain owned, franchises, and independents. They ranged in type from small luxury inns, to limited service properties, to large convention hotels and resorts. After retiring he authored a book, “So Many Hotels, So Little Time” in which he relates what life is like behind the scenes for a hotel manager. Ken operated more that 100 hotels and resorts in the US and Caribbean and formed eight companies. He is a firm believer that senior management should share their knowledge and experience with the next generation of management.

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  1. Thank you Ken. Yes, success is a very subjective thing. Common (and hyperinflated) definition of success is often associated with money, popularity, and power. As for me, I’d like to concur, in a way, with what Steve said. I can say that… let’s say.. I got an extra lease on life… at the same time, it stole one of my most treasured persons away from me. Maybe it’s the law of averages… I don’t know. All I can tell you is that the more things you have… (if it’s about money and owning things) the more problems you got… then, I guess it depends on the person… anyway, maybe it’s the age… but more and more often, lately, I think of when I had nothing… When I lived in a little house with a small garden and a couple of trees for the kids to climb… with a woman who really cared about me… Today, I achieved everything that I wanted… but I fondly and nostalgically recall that time… Maybe there’s always a cost in life… and again..yes.. success is a very subjective (and ephemeral) thing. Thank you

  2. defining “Success” is a bit like defining a “Profitable Investment”

    You only know, after the event (after it has been sold and proceeds realised) whether it was a “good” investment and so too a “Successful” investment or successful activity / aspiration

    I Agree with Steve, our definition of success changes as we age and I guess “success” will always be something which we strive toward or for….

    “past successes” are history and whilst we may have been succeeful in the past, such things will not motivate us like the things we have still to achieve.

    And I figure, it will be a good epitaph to be described as someone who never ran out of the goals and aspirations in which we find successes