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Dave Granet Defines Success

My friend Dave Granet posted a little thoughtlet on “success”, and it started a very nice conversation about what actually constitutes success and why. Thinking about success may provide us with a platform from which we might think about the other issues that may be orbiting our little personal planets. Dave’s post was this: “Successful people have a sense of gratitude. Unsuccessful people have a sense of entitlement.”

To parse this one must begin with a definition or at least an understanding of what success is, and equally importantly, what it is not. There are many terms that are often associated with success, things like wealth and power and fame. Is it necessary to have any, or all, of these to be a success? Can you be successful in the absence of any, or all, of these? Where would one fall on the gratitude/entitlement continuum if one were to have any, or all? This is really tricky, and I’m afraid that when I’m done you will likely have more questions than answers, maybe even more than you had when you started.

That may actually be the point now that I think of it. Success probably relates to what I’ve shared in the past about “All” or Everything” in that the proper definition of success emanates from within, not without, and this I think is what Dave is implying when he makes the distinction based on gratitude vs. entitlement. Let’s use an example, a very famous example, to try to illustrate this and prompt some thought: Steve Jobs.

Mr. Jobs as you know was cut down in the prime of his life by a disease that has no known cause. Was he a success? He was wealthy, famous, and wielded great power both inside and outside his company. He was married to his only spouse, and together they had healthy children (2, if memory serves). A life to be envied, no? One to which many (most?) might aspire.

A deeper dive at least suggests another story, though. It appears that Mr. Jobs, unlike his one great peer Bill Gates, had few if any close friends. Indeed, within his company and his industry he left behind a trail of despair. All one reads about is how hard it was to work with or for him. He won…for sure he won way more than he lost…but did he succeed? Was he successful? I never once read or heard anything from Mr. Jobs that implied that he was grateful for either any of his wins, or any of the spoils of his victories. There were a couple of whispers about an end of life wistfulness about a paucity of connection, though.

I don’t mean to pick on Mr. Jobs, and Heaven knows his family surely misses him. I think his example might soften the “entitlement” part of the equation a bit as I never really got a sense of that from him (as opposed to, say, your favorite rich and famous Kardashian). Being grateful, however, bespeaks connection, a very certain acknowledgement that the concrete parts of success–money, fame, power–are without any real value unless they somehow allow you to share them.

This, in turn, brings with it the humility that comes from realizing that you can’t be truly successful if success is only something you can count rather than something you can feel.

No one is entitled to victory, let alone success. In order to feel successful you must be able to admit that you neither did it alone, nor can you truly enjoy it alone. The gratitude felt by the successful is one born of thankfulness for the opportunity you must have been given, and borne aloft by the desire for your success to be one that is felt by not only you, but by others you are thankful to have in your life.

What does being successful mean to you? Rich or poor, famous or anonymous…are you successful?

4 Responses to “Dave Granet Defines Success”

  1. November 23rd, 2021 at 1:47 pm

    David Granet says:

    Honored to be mentioned here! I completely agree, defining success is the hard part.
    I still like (in part) coach John Wooden’s definition “Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.” In this he points to success as being an INTERNAL measure that you used the gifts you have to be the best version of yourself.
    This ties into another of Coach Wooden’s thoughts, “Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.”
    The original tidbit I shared implies that no matter the measure used, if internally the person feels entitled, they really are not a true success…

  2. November 23rd, 2021 at 5:24 pm

    drwhite says:

    Outstanding follow up Dave! Thanks for both the inspiration wisdom.

  3. November 28th, 2021 at 12:10 pm

    David Zugman says:

    Agree with all of that. Randy Pausch was one of those people. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Arnrxle4Gw

  4. November 28th, 2021 at 2:43 pm

    drwhite says:

    Aye Dave. I love his brick wall analogy.

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