The opposite of success is

Before we get started… If you read my last post about human trafficking and sex slavery, you need to see how much money was raised at Passion in Atlanta, GA by young people who “shouldn’t” have any money to give! Click here and here.


A few weeks ago I posed a question to Facebook friends and Twitter followers to get a gauge on how our generation views success.  I was pleasantly surprised by the quality answers I received!  Though it was a very small population of responses, I got the range of answers I predicted.  Here was the question I posed:

How would you complete the following sentence?  The opposite of success is ________

Before we get into the results (the good, the bad, the right, the wrong), let me provide some principles of success which I have I picked up in the last two years of pursuing such knowledge.  These are by no means gospel – just principles I utilize.  They may differ from what you have heard or been taught.

  1. Success has a personalized definition.  You decide what success means, what it looks like, and how much of it you want.  This truth coupled with Abundance Mentality reveals a pretty amazing  outlook on success.  Everyone has a different definition.  They guy next to you does not want or desire the same success you do.  The same goes for the guy next to him, and the lady next to him, and the lady next to her, etc.  There is an abundance of the success you define.
  2. There is no such thing at the Road to Success, because success is not a destination.  You never “arrive.”  Success is a mindset.  Thus, you are on Success Road as soon as you choose to be.  You can live it out daily!
  3. Anything and everything in life you think is worth having requires effort.  If you are looking for freebies, handouts, or bailouts you have somehow made a left turn off of Success Road.  Huh, isn’t that a funny little truth (see the current status of our nation’s economy… and Europe).

Alright, based on what answers I received there is pretty solid understanding (among my friends and acquaintances) of what success is not.  However, there is one totally wrong definition.  The absolutely wrong way to complete the phrase is:

The opposite of success is failure.

Only 2 of 10 responses filled in the blank with the word, failure.  Not too bad of a percentage.  However, it that answer is wrong.  Failure is not the opposite of success.  In fact, failure and success are very closely tied together.  They play off each other very often as people make choices, even daily.  The “good” answers included:

The opposite of success is inaction.
The opposite of success is fear of failure.
The opposite of success is not to try.
The opposite of success is never attempting.

These answers are highlighting the fact that if you never get started, you never give yourself a chance.  This is so true.  Think about a baseball player who never steps up to the plate for an at bat.  If they never swing at pitch, their batting average will be .000 and they will never experience success at the plate.  Despite these good answers, they only address half of the problem people experience on their way to success.  It also hints at a scary attitude among Generation Y.  That is, all you have to do is try and you can consider it a success.  Is this a reflection of Generation Y’s entitlement mentality?  We’ll save that question for a different post.

Before we unveil the most correct answer(s), I must give a shout out to my dear friend from college who answered with, “Depauw University football.”  While this answer is factual and true, it misses the point I am trying to make.  Thanks Don!  This answer made me laugh – Wabash Always Fights!  So, without further adieu, the best answers are:

The opposite of success is quitting.
The opposite of success is quit.

Yes!  Now, these answers really get at the heart of being successful!  Quit, or quitting, is the opposite of success.  These answers put success into the context of the 3 principles I shared above: pursuing success as you define it, Success Road not Road to Success, and applying concentrated effort.  Being that you are in the hunt (you have stepped up to the plate and you are swinging) things are going to happen.  Resistance, mistakes, hurdles, failure, and um… LIFE will happen.  To quit, you have to start and experience failure.  To succeed, you have to adjust, innovate, learn, and get back up after failure.  I phrase I came across recently which I love is: Fail Forward.  This is where success and failure become closely tied.  Failures are actually opportunities for success!  A business owner I greatly respect has a favorite teaching from Think and Grow Rich.  It is really good.  It basically says, there is a seed of equal or greater reward in every obstacle, problem, or failure.  That reward is success and more.

Action to take: define your success.

WARNING: Experiencing success as you define it can be extremely enjoyable and lead to hunger for other, more meaningful things.  Success will grow you into something you may not have expected, and you’ll say, “Wow.  Praise God.”  Your dreams may become larger – like the dreams you had as a child.  Success can also cause one to take risks which in turn may produce a greater benefit.  If it does not produce greater benefit, it may lead to you failure… and getting back up, adjusting, improving, having faith… and thus, succeeding once again.  It’s a vicious cycle.  Fair warning.