How you measure success can be done in a dozen different ways. Some of them meaningful, some of them not so much. Once upon a time I might have tried to answer this question based on financial success, but now I will answer with a little more depth.
A successful person is the person who does everything they can to attain the life that they truly desire. In other words, when you are able to make your passions, your interests, the things that make you feel alive, become the roots of your existence. There are no limits to this, as humans all have different things that make them tick.
An average person is the person who never takes action on following through with their dreams. They might be financially successful by the standards of society, but they live a life that someone else laid out before them. Maybe once upon a time they dreamt of being a musician, but somewhere along the line they traded in their instrument for a quest of climbing some corporate ladder.
Often times when you have this discussion with people they try to argue that the former is nearly impossible. If you look at people who have made their dreams a reality, it wasn’t something that happened over night. It isn’t about quitting your job and risking becoming homeless to follow your dreams. It is about taking small steps. The reason not everyone does, or even tries to make their life revolve around their passions, is because it takes a shit load of work. It’s scary, it’s hard. And usually there is another safer path there waiting for you, the same one that everyone else is taking.
Here I will compare the lives of two different people. One who is financially successful, one who is successful in the sense I speak of above.
Big Tim graduated from college near the top of his class. Growing up he always had an amazing talent at design. In high school he used to spend his free time drawing sketches of elaborate buildings, homes, and other structures. When he got to school, he didn’t really know what to study, so he got a business degree.
Big Tim ended up working for a big corporation in their supply chain group. After being there for twenty years, he makes well over six figures a year, drives a nice car and has a large house, but he dreads waking up each day. To him each day is almost the same as the day before. He hates Sundays, spends each week day looking forward to Friday, and isn’t very fond of the people he works with. Big Tim spends a lot of time thinking that somewhere along the lines he committed to a life that was one of the options offered to the average person of society, instead of the life he wanted. Only in hindsight does he realize that he gave up on the things he loved because he thought he was supposed to do something else.
Now let’s look at Phil. Ever since being introduced to video games as a kid, Phil became fascinated with the world of virtual reality. By the time middle school rolled around him and his friends used to get together and write out plots for games that they made up, design levels, and draw characters for these games. In high school Phil started to learn everything he could about how to develop his own game, teaching himself and learning from others on the internet.
When it came time for Phil to go to college, he ultimately opted out of it despite his parents’ wishes. Upon graduation Phil had already created his own video game, which he used to get a job at a small startup company. He loved the group he worked with, as they all had inherently similar interests, and they allowed him the creativity to make his ideas come to life. A few years later, Phil’s team released a game that attracted a large player base, enabling him to no longer have to worry about finances. Phil now spends every day around people he calls friends, doing work that revolves around a passion that he discovered as a child.
To put it simply: Successful people are those who spend a little time each day on the things they love, working towards a vision they have in their head where those passions are what their days revolve around.
Of course, this is just the opinion I have about the subject.