“Success” is a buzzword, nothing more. True or False?

“Success” is a buzzword, nothing more. True or False?

My wonderful and insightful friend Mustakettu85 (please visit her page) recently commented on one of my posts the statement “Success” is a buzzword, nothing more”. It made me think, and I love anything that makes me think. This is a response.

I am going to admit from the very beginning that I do not know in detail the thoughts that underlie this comment. Knowing Mustakettu85  they are probably very deep. So I am going to look at the idea of success from my perspective. I just want to say that I thank her deeply for giving me a new topic about which to post.

Definition of success

I know that success has many definitions. Some people consider it financial success: the accumulation of wealth. Others consider it something political: power. Others may see it as exceling at some sport or game or in achieving fame. The commonality in each of these is a defined goal. So success is achieving a goal.

When I was a young man I defined some life goals. I wanted to write novels that would be published and read. I wanted to be an accomplished artist and one day hold exhibitions. And a little after formulating these I decided upon a third: I wanted to perform for others, to bring happiness.

To date I have progress on each of these. Yes, I am a published non-fiction author, with a few magazine articles and textbooks to my name. My novel has been underway since 2013 and I suspect it may take a few more years. As an artist I have one pen and ink sketch in a show to date.  No personal exhibitions. I really need to pt  more effort into this if I wish to succeed. And as for being a performer, we can tick this one off. In earlier days I spent four years as an amateur actor/singer in a theatre company and spent much of this year singing in nursing homes. Nothing spectacular, but it still meets the goal.

My wife, however, has different goals. Simple happiness and a quiet but comfortable home life define the extent of her ambition. So that is what her idea of success would look like.

There are also undefined goals: those that we have but tend to take for granted. Raising my daughter, protecting her, guiding her and helping her to grow into a fulfilled individual. Yep – that’s a biggy. And being a good and loving husband. Another. These sit deep within me and I respond to them constantly. I also suspect that these are ongoing.

What is a buzzword?

OK, I’ve gone to the Merriam-Webster dictionary for this.

Definition of buzzword

  1. 1:  an important-sounding usually technical word or phrase often of little meaning used chiefly to impress laymen

  2. 2:  a voguish word or phrase —called also buzz phrase

Hmmmmmm…

So does Success meet this definition?

It’s not really a technical word but it is used to impress (in my opinion). And yes, it is voguish. I claim this because, let’s face it, the term appears everywhere. There are books and videos dedicated to success. So yes, I believe that success is a buzzword.

Does being a buzzword denigrate success?

OK. I know that this is not part of the initial question, but I suspect it is implied by Mustakettu85. Not in a negative manner. I suspect that she is saying something along the lines of “live life, enjoy the experience, and don’t get so caught up in chasing the ideal of success that you miss the actual joy of being.” (My friend, please correct me if I am wrong).

I guess that there is truth in this. Accomplishing great goals is not the be all and end all. I admit that I enjoy having goals. They give me direction and every small accomplishment adds joy. I also strive to exist in every moment, to take pleasure in the small things. I suspect that this is actually more difficult than it sounds, but I strive to do so.

Anyway, my personal opinion is that something can be a buzzword and still have worth. Success is probably an overused word to describe that feeling that we have control over the directions our lives head.

Hence I still desire my successes – large or small. And I still wish to understand the barriers which prevent me accomplishing those goals in the hope that I may overcome them.

Once again a big thanks to Mustakettu85 who I am hoping is not dismayed at seeing a simple sentence turned into such an essay.

3 Comments


  1. Yeah, the point is not letting oneself get caught in the web of lies re:how others judge us. It’s one thing if you can define “success” purely on your own terms; but it’s something completely different when a person starts following those “road to success” blogs, buying those books etc, basically letting someone else dictate their own ideas to them.


    1. My first instinct was to agree wholeheartedly with that last statement, but then I paused. I guess it comes down to whether or not the person purchasing the books, reading the blogs, etc feels that there is any value in them.


      1. Why would anyone purchase a book if they think there is no value in it? And supposing they do think it has value, why exactly do they think so? Do they believe someone out there, whom they never met, might hold a key to solving their problems? But how is it logically possible?
        I can understand studying biographies / interviews of people whom we find to be worthy of emulation, those who display skills we might want for ourselves. There might be value in their experiences – not necessarily universally applicable, but still.
        But all those self-proclaimed “success gurus”, well, let’s be honest: they are nobodies. Once in a while they may be genuinely nice people who believe they may have stumbled upon a magic recipe or something, and they just want to share. But 9 times outta ten, these people are as close to con men as it gets. They just want money – either in the form of book sales, or through some affiliate campaign (clicks, ads, etc). The only thing they can do well is lure others in by using cleverly designed headings and other psychological / NLP tricks. They don’t have much to offer outside that.
        Basically, my motto is “trust no-one”. Not even me ;)

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