To each one of us, success means something uniquely personal. Barack Obama and Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, see success as impacting the lives of others, while Thomas Edison and entrepreneur John Paul DeJoria see it as working hard, plain and simple. Acclaimed author, Maya Angelou, takes a more philosophical approach to success, defining it as “enjoying your work”. Our selection of famous success quotes share what success can mean.
While the definitions of success may vary, we can still look around us and see people who are successful in the ways we want for ourselves. The quotes below offer us a look at what various “successful” individuals think about the concept.
The largely obscured Miguel de Cervantes, whose full name- although much disputed- is taken to be Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, was a Spanish writer. Many regard him as one of the greatest Spanish writers in history.
Cervantes believed the road to success to be a path that most people avoid. To attain success, you must be able to question the norms and make new attempts, even if you look absurd doing so.
Pablo Picasso is one of the most talented and universally acclaimed artists of the 20th century. Many know him for his talent and unique art style. Picasso invented constructed sculpture and also co-invented the use of collage. He made major important contributions to symbolism and surrealism in art.
In this quote, Picasso lays down three steps to success; planning, believing and working. To gain success, you must have a goal in sight with a good plan on how to achieve it. Then you must hold the belief that your dream is achievable. Finally, you need to put in the work to make your abstract thoughts into physical reality.
Anthony J. D'Angelo is an author and a revolutionary. Once quoted saying “Most college students go to college and get a degree, but not an education”, D’Angelo spent the spring of 1995 to take a closer look at the ills of the higher education system. This led to the founding of Em PowerX!, an educational group dedicated to empowering young adults.
D’Angelo sees failure as a necessary path to success. There are some lessons we can only learn after failing at something, or after someone else who has failed shares their experiences with us. Put simply; success is a product of lessons learned through failure.
Shiv Khera is an Indian author, popularly known for his self-help books. He is a political activist who founded the Country First Foundation, an social activism organisation aimed at promoting freedom through justice and education. His 1998 best selling You Can Win (amazon) has sold over 8 million copies.
Your actions, whether positive or negative, have their origins stemming from your mind. Success for Khera, according to this quote, is thus the product of thinking right and acting right.
Lawyer and Statesman, Abraham Lincoln, was the 16th president of the United States. His impressive legacy as a president includes the reunification of the states and modernising the U.S. economy. He was strongly against slavery and used his powers as commander-in-chief to free slaves; a cause which was a factor in his assassination.
Lincoln believed that the desire to succeed must come from within. We should not always expect external sources to fuel our drive. As someone seeking success in any aspect of your life, learn to push yourself to put in the work. Even when there’s no one watching and cheering you along.
Rick Ross is an American rapper, entrepreneur and hip-hop record executive. MTV named him the Hottest MC in the Game by 2012. Rick Ross’ impressive Discography includes the albums Port of Miami, Deeper than Rap, Teflon Don and God Forgives (all on amazon), I Don’t which was nominated for best rap album at the 2013 Grammy awards.
To be successful, you have to be consistent. In Rick Ross’ journey, his passion kept him consistent long enough to see the results from his hard work. We could view this as a lesson to work on things that we care about. So we view our work as a labour of love.
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill was a prime minister of the UK, an army officer and a writer. He led his country in the second world war to victory. In 1953, he won the Nobel Prize in Literature. Churchill was a Member of Parliament for more than 60 years, with his political ideology of Liberalism and Imperialism.
Sir Winson Churchill suffered a speech impediment from childhood and experienced adversities while trying to gain an education. He fought through all that to become one of the most influential figures in British History. Success for him is thus having the courage to stand up go after what you want in the face of failure. This success quote reminds us to disregard our fear of failure and keep trying at what we want.
Ohio born Harvey Firestone was an American businessman who founded the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company. Firestone started his company in 1890, initially making rubber tires for carriages, before diversifying into automobile tires in 1990. In his honour, Princeton University named their library, one of the largest university libraries in the world, Firestone Library.
Firestone notably worked and walked with American industry leaders Henry Ford and Thomas Edison, with the three often vacationing together. He thus attributes his success to knowing the right people and making the right connections.
Taylor Lautner is an American actor and model. Many know him for his role as 'Jacob Black' in the Twilight saga film series (amazon). His impressive list of awards includes: Best Shirtless Performance at the 2013 MTV Movie Awards, Choice Male Hottie at the 2010 Teen Choice Awards, and Choice Movie Actor at the People's Choice Award in 2011 and again in 2013.
On the journey of success, we expect to make connections and relationships that will support us when needed. Lautner believes that honesty and loyalty are important values to introduce to these relationships. When we start relationships with good intentions and an honest approach, then we can expect positive outcomes.
Bill Owens was the 40th Governor of Colorado from 1999 to 2007. He was a member of the Republican Party and he also worked as a senior director at the International Law Firm of Greenberg Traurig, LLP, after politics. In 2007, he joined the University of Denver's Institute for Public Policy Studies as a senior fellow.
Owens' success quote implies that a leader has failed if they don't 'raise' their followers. They have failed if the people working with them are not reaching personal milestones. They have failed if they refuse to teach the precepts of success and groom responsible, successful people. Success as a leader is thus a function of how successful your followers are.
David Joseph Schwartz was an American motivational writer and life strategist known for authoring the books, Magic of Thinking Big and Magic of Getting What You Want (both on amazon). He is also a life strategist. He has won the Nebula Awards for SF/F works, the SLF Fountain Award for speculative fiction short story and the William L. Crawford - IAFA Fantasy Award for a first fantasy book.
Success starts from the mind. We often envisage or plan before we set out to act. As renowned author Jason Harvey said, "Dreaming is free". There's no limit to how big you can dream. Schwartz goes a step further to suggest that: the bigger your dreams are, the bigger your chances of success.
Kelly LeBrock is an American-English actress who was born in New York but lived her early years in London. Entering into the entertainment world at the early age of 16, she has appeared in numerous movies, including Weird Science, Hard to Kill, Woman in Red (all on amazon) among others. In 1985 she won the ShoWest Award for the Female Star of Tomorrow.
Success for LeBrock is the ability to effectively mentor the coming generation, whether professionally or more along family lines. When someone can point to you as their role model, then you are successful.
And so, there’s no universally agreed view on success. Neither is there a single formula on how to be successful. While some of the views above may have resonated with you, it is clear that success is deeply personal.
Perhaps American entrepreneur and motivational speaker, Jim Rohn, summarised it when he said: “Success is the steady progress towards one’s personal goal”. First, you must have something you’re aiming for. A goal with several milestones. Then your success can depend on whether you are making progress towards this goal.