Success: The Deeper Meaning


It is now being confessed that the statistics claiming that college graduates earn more income than non-graduates over a lifetime may be skewed. The truth is, ambitious people usually make more money and are usually found among college graduates. Researchers also suggests that had these same people never attended college their earning potential would probably have remained the same.

This can also be applied to those who found success. It doesn’t matter what steps they took, the results would have been the same. The reason is success is an expression of the Authentic cause within each unique individual. Success is not achieved by following any set of steps or following any group of principals or assuming any archetype. That is why so called formulas for success continue to produce less than satisfactory results. Success (much like happiness) is not something you can put on a “to do” list, but rather it is a “state of being”.

A real simple approach to learning how to become successful is to read about those who you believe have attained your life’s dreams. By considering people who satisfy your definition of success you will find there is only one cause that they all share and that is persistence.

Short Stories of Successful Failures

According to “The Secret of Success is Not a Secret,” by Darcy Andries, Tenacity or being persistent in maintaining, or seeking something valued or desired is the name of the game. Here are just a few examples from her book:

Clint Eastwood
Actor, Director and Producer was fired early in his career. Universal studio executives told him, “You have a chipped tooth, your Adam’s apple sticks out to far and you talk to slow.” He supported himself through odd jobs then starred in an Italian movie called, “A Fist Full of Dollars.” It was a huge success and the director had him also star in, “A Few Dollars More” and “The Good, Bad and Ugly.” Once released worldwide, he became an international star.

Walt Disney
Walt began with entrepreneurial failures early in life and was forced into bankruptcy. He was also fired by a newspaper editor as he “had no good ideas.” Working against his critics, he spent 4 years in the production of “Snow White and the Sever Dwarfs” costing $1.5 million dollars in 1938, almost causing his second business to end in bankruptcy. Since releasing Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1939, the movie has earned over $400 million dollars. Walt Disney also holds the record for receiving the most Academy Awards, twenty-six, with sixty-four nominations.

Albert Einstein
Albert was suspected of being mentally retarded while in elementary school due to his poor performance. Most considered him to be a failure with no future. Later he failed the entrance exam into the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and his doctoral dissertation was rejected as “irrelevant and fanciful.” He was recognized only after “The Special Theory of Relativity” was published. In 1921 Einstein received the Nobel Prize in Physics.

David Letterman
David was fired as an Indianapolis weatherman. He later landed ordinary roles on two television programs that were both canceled only after a few episodes. Another series was to be called “Leave it to Dave,” however it never aired. He then had a morning show called, “The David Letterman Show,” which was canceled after four months. Dave was finally offered the “Late Night with David Letterman” which earned five Emmy Awards and thirty five Emmy nominations. He later moved to CBS to host “The Late Show” which earned nine Emmy Awards and more than fifty Emmy nominations.

Clark Gable
Clark worked for 10 years trying to get the attention of Hollywood. Working in small theater productions he traveled form Ohio to Oregon. He sold ties to make a living. His first screen test for MGM was a failure and he was forced to find work as an extra in silent movies. He left the movies and returned to the stage. He auditioned for Warner Brothers but was again turned down. They thought his ears were too big. Gable returned to MGM in 1931 and found a role in The Painted Desert which was a success. However, Gable let it go to his head and MGM lent him out to a smaller studio were he could hopefully find humility. Instead in 1934 he won the Academy Award for Best Actor in “It Happened One Night.” His most famous role was his as the male lead in “Gone With the Wind”.

Abraham Lincoln
This could arguably be the most famous successful failure story in history.

  1. In 1831 his first business, a dry goods store failed.
  2. One year later he entered The Black Hawk War as Captain. Three months later he was demoted and left the Army as a Private.
  3. Lost an election for the state legislation in 1832.
  4. Opened another store, which also failed leaving him in debt in 1833.
  5. As a postmaster he had the worse efficiency record in the county.
  6. 1834 he ran for the Illinois House of Representatives and won only to later lose as the Speaker of the House in 1838.
  7. 1843 Lincoln lost an election for U.S. Congress.
  8. He won the following election but later failed to be re-elected in 1848.
  9. 1855 he lost his bid for the U.S. Senate
  10. 1856 he ran for Vice President and lost.
  11. 1858 he again ran for U.S. Senate and lost a second time.
  12. Finally in 1860 he ran for president of the United States and won with 40% of the popular vote. It was assumed that he would lose re-election in 1864, but he won with 55% of the popular vote.

What success model did Lincoln and these other successful people adhere to? What are the “7, 10 or 15 Principals of Success” that they followed? What does this say about the “Law of Attraction?”

Success is Inevitable

The above stories reveal the dynamics of real life. These are typical examples of how people discover real success. Notice it is not a straight path. Success comes only after failure and persistence. It was their inner drive, fueled by passion that compelled these people to press forward against repeated failures and disappointments.

Actor Tony Curtis said it best when he was interviewed by Steve Young in the book “Great Failures of the Extremely Successful”.

There’s no way I can point to a single experience or event and say that from then on, my life was changed. It’s just the living of life itself. You cannot put that into words. It’s too variable. Too changing. Every moment, every second we are alive provides so may inputs and impulses that it’s too difficult to choose one and say, ‘That’s what did it for me.’ – Tony Curtis – Actor, Painter and Writer

It is tenacity of our inner motivation that is responsible for success, and tenacity is very simply the willingness to insist on expressing your true inner self in the face of any obstacle.

Passion for an idea, is the tangible evidence that you are tapping into your Authentic Side where your inner motivator resides. When you feel excitement and exhibit a sense of joy found in accomplishment, you are expressing your authentic inner self and given time, success is inevitable.

Just don’t stop. Be persistent! Do not give up!

However, there does exist a tool that can ignite more of that fiery passion within you. A “Short-cut” if you will, on your path to a successful state of being. Want to know more?

The successful “You” awaits discovery!

About the author

CEO of Authentic Systems, Degree in Philosophy from University of California, Berkeley.
11 Responses
  1. Thu Sondergaard

    Hey there! This post couldn’t be written any better! Reading this post reminds me of my previous room mate! He always kept chatting about this. I will forward this write-up to him. Pretty sure he will have a good read. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Jean

    For me, when thinking about success, persistence sometimes comes across as being akin to fertilizer, an unappealing but necessary component of producing a fertile garden.

    The successful are those who persist because they:
    1. Learn to see the value inherent in the challenges (bs) they confront along the way; and
    2. They learn how to incorporate and utilize said challenges for their success.

  3. John Voris


    I was never a salesman in the true sense. I was fired so many times, I decided to quit first and avoid the embarrassment. I had 7 sales jobs in 5 years.

    I gave up on sales and bought a small business. When I had it up for sale, 5 years later, a vendor offered me a sales job and I gave sales one more chance.

    But I could not afford to repeat the same pattern and succeed. I knew that all my past sales training did not work. That’s when I applied the philosophy of language to selling and Authentic Systems was born.

    Authentic Systems enabled me to support my family through door-to-door cold-call sales for the next 30 years.

    Persistence was the answer.

    Thanks for your comment. Wright any time.


  4. John Voris

    Thu Snodergaard,

    Thank you for your nice comment.

    By the way, Kierkegaard played a major role in helping us develop Authentic Systems and the Authentic Motivator in particular.


  5. Deborah Spagnuolo

    I’ve come across the same idea in a different form. The idea being, if you want to be an expert at something, do it relentlessly for 10 years. Anything done consistently for 10 years will become a success. It’s a pretty broad statement but it’s hard to find an example that it’s not true.

    1. John Voris


      Yes, you’re on target. Your broad statement is true if who you are matches the career chosen.

      However, too many are in the wrong career, for the wrong reasons, and spending far too long.

      They can make a living, but feel a rather dull sense of satisfaction because they are not fully expressing who they are at a deeper level.

      These are the people who need our help. We begin by demonstrating there are no magic formulas.

  6. Biz Burnett

    Dictionaries always reflect the meanings and underlying values of the people who speak the dictionary’s language. In the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, the first current definition of “Success” is “the fact of getting or achieving wealth, respect, or fame.” Those 3 states of HAVING are all externally measurable, and are the result of DOING something or having something DOne to you. As long as these 3 criteria are the ONLY way we and others can determine that someone is “a success,” most of us will be deemed by ourselves and others as the opposite — a failure. The current definition of “Success” is flawed because serial killers achieve negative fame (notoriety) but we collectively consider them social/psychological failures.

    That same dictionary says that the origin of the word “Success” is the word “Succeed,” whose current first definition is “to do what you are trying to do : to achieve the correct or desired result.” Combining these 2 related words’ definitions indirectly proves that apparently, American English speakers currently believe that Wealth, Respect, and Fame are the only CORRECT desires, and that trying to acquire or receive Wealth, Respect, and Fame is the only CORRECT way to live. This feels profoundly incorrect to me.

    WE can make the future definition of “Success” include a 4th criteria: Authenticity, which is defined as “being true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character.” Note that Authenticity is a state of BEING, not a state of HAVING or DOING.

  7. Biz Burnett

    Your statement above, “Passion for an idea, is the tangible evidence that you are tapping into your Authentic Side where your inner motivator resides.” reminds me of the “Hot and Cold” game I LOVED playing as a kid. My passion for that game then was a great “clue” about what MY lifelong inner/authentic motivator is: the need to KNOW.

    The “rather dull sense of satisfaction” people feel about their job/career is their Authentic Self saying “Cool, cool, cold, brrrry cold, freezing!” relative to being “hot on the trail” of our authentic motivator. When we are in a job/career that enables us to find and express who we are at a deeper level, our Authentic Self starts saying, “Cool, warm, warm, warmer, hot, HOT, you found it!” We describe that intense level of satisfaction as our PASSION, and that moment of discovery a “Eureka!” moment.

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