Here’s a question: How would you define success? The truth is, success is a concept that can vary greatly person-to-person, and it extends beyond the conventional measures of wealth, fame, or power. While many associate success with billionaires, renowned historical figures, or world leaders, it’s important to recognize that for many of these people, their sense of accomplishment goes beyond these external markers.
If you’re looking for inspiration, don’t miss these quotes that define success from some of the world’s most influential people.
Oprah Winfrey’s journey to success is a testament to resilience and determination. She emerged from challenging and modest beginnings to a career in television. Her early years saw her working at local stations in Baltimore, Maryland, where she confronted adversity and discrimination. When she finally secured her own show, initial ratings were disheartening.
Yet, Oprah’s indomitable spirit refused to waver. She decided to revamp the format of her show, emphasizing her relatability, which proved to be a game-changer, eventually propelling her to the title of “America’s First Lady of talk shows.”
Beyond her iconic talk show, Oprah started other ventures, including her own magazine, production company, and numerous charitable organizations. But, for her, the essence of success transcends fame or wealth. She views success as being intricately tied to the sense of fulfillment and purpose that one derives from their life’s work:
“… How to be used in the greater service to life. Ask this question, and the answer will be returned and rewarded to you with fulfillment, which is the major definition of success, to me.”Oprah Winfrey
Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States, didn’t see success the way most people might think. He didn’t measure it by how much power he had or how rich he could become.
Instead, he believed that success meant something different. With his Harvard Law School education, he could have taken high-paying jobs, but he chose to work in struggling neighborhoods, helping ordinary people. He wanted to make their lives better, and that was his way of achieving success.
His wife, Michelle Obama, explained that he made this choice because he believed in the value of serving others. It wasn’t about fame or fortune for him; it was about making a positive impact on people’s lives.
“For Barack, success isn’t about how much money you make. It’s about the difference you make in people’s lives.”Michelle Obama
Before he became a billionaire and a famous TV personality, Mark Cuban had a relatively average upbringing in a middle-class family near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He was always interested in business, even as a child. But his success in business didn’t come knocking on his door right away. In fact, he wandered around the country, doing various sales jobs and crashing at friends’ places before he made a name for himself in the tech world.
Cuban amounted his fortune by creating, selling, and investing in different companies. As his bank account grew, so did his portfolio of businesses, which now includes everything from studio films to the Dallas Mavericks. He even hinted at the idea of running for President of the United States.
But despite his larger-than-life persona and constant presence in the public eye, Mark Cuban has some down-to-earth advice to share about success:
“To me, the definition of success is waking up in the morning with a smile on your face, knowing it’s going to be a great day. I was happy and felt like I was successful when I was poor, living six guys in a three-bedroom apartment, sleeping on the floor.”Mark Cuban
Bill Gates, the man behind Microsoft, started it all with his friend Paul Allen back in 1975. They essentially changed how the whole world works with their software, which you can find on almost every computer today. When they took Microsoft public in the early 1980s, Gates became the youngest billionaire ever at just 31.
From 1995 onward, Gates pretty much held the title of the world’s richest person or came really close every single year. But what’s intriguing about him is that he’s not just about making money. He’s given away a large portion of his fortune to help out and, along with his now ex-wife Melinda, set up an organization to fight poverty all over the world.
When Bill Gates talks about success, he’s not just talking about having lots of money. He’s all about making a difference and changing people’s lives for the better. So, for him, success means giving back and making the world a better place:
“It is also nice to feel like you made a difference — inventing something or raising kids or helping people in need.”Bill Gates
Arianna Huffington is quite the powerhouse. She’s made it to Forbes’ list of the most powerful women, authored New York Times bestsellers, and is undeniably one of the most influential media moguls in history. Her journey began in 1974 when she published her first book, and in 1980, she made a significant career move from London to the United States.
During the early 2000s, she even threw her hat into the ring for the position of Governor of California. In 2005, she launched the Huffington Post (now known as HuffPost), a news platform that went on to win several prominent awards.
Huffington has a unique perspective on how people should define success. While many of us tend to view it through the lens of money and power, she argues that there’s a crucial third dimension we should consider:
“To live the lives we truly want and deserve, and not just the lives we settle for, we need a Third Metric a third measure of success that goes beyond the two metrics of money and power, and consists of four pillars: well-being, wisdom, wonder, and giving.”Arianna Huffington
Warren Buffett, a celebrity in the business world, didn’t waste any time as a kid; he was already creating and selling businesses from a young age and using the money he made from one of his childhood companies to put himself through college.
They call him the “Oracle of Omaha” because he’s a lifelong learner. He soaks up knowledge from every opportunity that comes his way.
Throughout his life, Buffett ventured into all sorts of businesses — media, insurance, energy, the food industry. His fortune grew to a jaw-dropping $115.1 billion in 2023. But here’s the kicker: In 2006, he decided to give away all of his money to charity, with most of it going to Bill Gates’ foundation.
For Warren Buffett, just like Bill Gates, success isn’t all about the money or being famous:
“I measure success by how many people love me.”Warren Buffett
We all have to start somewhere.
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