Inspiration December 9, 2017
Is the definition of success about reaching your goals? Or is it about the effort you put into your goals, regardless of whether you meet them? The truth is that everyone has their own definition of success. Some even use money and power to measure how much they’ve accomplished in life.
But how do you define success even after achieving it? Keep reading to discover the inspiring stories of seven influential women – ranging from poets to CEOs – and hear how they define success after experiencing it firsthand.
Have you ever read the Huffington Post and dreamed of becoming just as successful as its founder, Arianna Huffington? While her job may sound glamorous, Huffington experienced the challenges of success firsthand. As she shares in her book, “Thrive,” her “waking point” was when exhaustion caused her to fall and shatter her cheekbone.
Examining what success truly means – beyond the typically use of money and power as a metric – Huffington came up with a third measurement based on “well-being, wisdom, wonder and giving.” As she explains, “To live the lives we truly want and deserve, and not just the lives we settle for, we need a third metric.”
Now, it’s time to take a trip back to English class – because if you didn’t read any pieces by Maya Angelou, you should probably ask for your money back. This famous writer produced over 20 books and even had three novels – “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” “The Heart of a Woman” and “Even the Best Stars Looked Lonesome” – on The New York Times bestseller list simultaneously for six weeks. She didn’t have an easy early life – she was raised by her grandmother in the South, raped at a young age and gave birth to her only child at age 17 – but that didn’t stop her from becoming a Tony-nominated actress.
Although Angelou has since passed away, her words of wisdom are more relevant than ever. The late poet believed happiness and love were key to a successful life and career, saying, “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”
Lina Ramos isn’t your traditional superhero, but she does seem to have superpowers that help her balance being a businesswoman, mom-of-three and Ironwoman triathlete. You can read ENTITY’s exclusive interview with Ramos here. However, Ramos is most well known for her work with Source Intelligence – a software-based global network of businesses designed to increase companies’ communication and transparency – and for competing at the Ironman World Championship.
In Ramos’s experience, “Success is getting up one more time than you fall down. When you hit challenges, the first step is committing to getting back up.” She also advises that people take a “lifetime view” of whatever they’re doing and realize “total success or total failure isn’t determined by this one race, ride or season.”
For Julianne Moore, “underachiever” is a foreign concept. The academy award-winning actress has written children’s books, served as an ambassador for the L’Oreal Paris Women of Worth campaign and starred in countless movies. Growing up as an Army brat, she lived in eight states and Germany before discovering her love of theater. In 2015, she earned her first Oscar (Best Actress in a Leader Role) for her work in “Still Alice.”
As Moore explains to Huffington Post, she defines success as completely “personal.” She says, “I think you feel successful when you’re doing something well that you enjoy. And that can be anything. It doesn’t have to be something that’s paid, it can be something that you really love doing. It can involve your family, it can involve your work, but it’s just the feeling that you’re accomplishing something that you want to accomplish. I feel very fortunate to have been able to support myself doing work that I love.”
If you’ve ever watched the news, you’ve probably seen Katie Couric dominating the big screen. She started her journalism career in 1957 and by 2006, she became the first woman to anchor “CBS Evening News” without a partner. She’s also explored the writing field, publishing children’s books called “The Brand New Kid” and “Blue Ribbon Day” along with a self-help book, “The Best Advice I Ever Got: Lessons from Extraordinary Lives.”
For Couric, the meaning of success “comes down to your personal relationships, the kind of person you are both at work and at home, and the kind of energy you exude on a daily basis.” She claims to focus less on the definition of success and more on the opportunities it has given her, such as the chance to take her daughters to Japan and China.
The beauty industry has always held a special place in Emily Weiss’s heart. In fact, she believes her time as an assistant in Vogue taught her to push the envelope and come up with creative solutions. She needed both skills when she started the website, Into the Gloss (and now the cosmetics brand Glossier).
Like many entrepreneurs, Weiss initially associated success with profit. However, she realized that a company’s success involves much more than partnering with brands and companies – and includes much more room for growth. She tells Huffington Post, “With Into the Gloss, and now Glossier, the reason it was successful was because there were so many like-minded women out there who were also dissatisfied with their beauty experiences.” For Weiss, success may be less about reaching companies as reaching actual people.
There’s very little Anne Sweeney hasn’t done in the TV world. In her early days, she spent 12 years working at Viacom’s Nickelodeon. She also played a role in establishing FX networks, acting as its chairman and CEO. She is perhaps most well known, however, for the years she spent as President of Disney ABC Television Group. When she stepped down from Disney in 2015, Sweeney mentioned pursuing work as a television director. Recently, she joined Netflix’s board of directors.
What does Sweeney think of success? “Define success on your own terms, achieve it by your own rules, and build a life you’re proud to live.”
Success might be as hard to define as it is to achieve. However, as these seven influential women show, success isn’t just possible, it’s also personal. And #WomenThatDo don’t just strive for success; they also strive to establish their own definitions.
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