Monday, January 13, 2014

Your Definition of Success

by Cindy

How do you define success?  It's an interesting question and it's definitely dependent on your culture.

Recently SAP published 99 Facts on the Future of Business and since we use SAP in one of my classes, I ran through a few of the slides with my class.  Some made me feel old, some were surprising - Typical mobile phone users check their phone 150 times a day - I am definitely NOT typical!  Many of my students agreed and said it is actually a number much larger than 150.  The one that we discussed the most though was this one - Only 11% (of Gen Y) define having a lot of money as a definition of success.  Admittedly, I don't know anything about the gentleman who is the source of this quote but the quote was very interesting.

I started the discussion with my very general, high level thoughts on the US.  First, I think Americans are defined by what we do for a living.  I illustrated the point by explaining when you are introduced to someone you get their name and then the next question is always, "what do you do?"  The other measure of success is the house you live in, in particular, the size and location of the house in which you live.  The size and location is of course based on the amount of money you make so I said, in general, most Americans my age or older would say that money is a definition of success.

My students, who are Gen Y, and from all different cultures had some interesting answers on whether their culture believes that having a lot of money is a definition of success.

For many in the Middle East, you are defined by your family name.  And if they know you well enough, they will even clarify how close you are to the patriarch of the family.  "She's the daughter!" or "yea but she's only a cousin of..."

For my students from the sub-continent, they are successful based on how many family members they are supporting.  If you support your parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. then you are considered successful.  The more people = the more successful.

For my European students, it is about the job you have - for whom do you work and how long you have worked for them (representing loyalty). do you (really) define success?...


  1. Very interesting, Cindy! I actually think it's tragic that we, as a society, measure our success by comparing incomes, job titles and the location of our homes instead of the relationships we have, both with our families and with our friends, and how content we are with who we are as people (our faith, extracurricular activities and health all play into this). Defining oneself by a job title alone is more than a little sad to me.

    Hello, my name is Ginger Hall. I am a God-loving mom, wife, sister, daughter, cyclist and lover of all things outdoor and nature oriented. When I'm with one of my loved ones and/or doing something I love, that's when I feel successful. :) That's just my opinion though!

  2. I agree with you - it's depressing. Thankfully being a Christian gives us hope, meaning and identity beyond the labels our culture puts on us.

    Thanks for faithfully reading our blog!