December 3

How to Measure True Success

How to Measure True Success

By Deborah Johnson

December 3, 2023

Deborah Johnson, financial freedom, freedom of choice, freedom of time, freedom to contribute, freedom to grow and learn, podcast, true success

The feeling of true success often eludes even the highly skilled professionals in fields of music, art, acting and athletics. Part of the reason is because of the emphasis on incorrect measurement of genuine accomplishment. While material wealth and awards hold their appeal, they often fail to provide true and lasting satisfaction. Another contributing factor is the tendency to constantly compare ourselves to others.

In many organizations, there are select individuals who earn significantly higher incomes or receive special privileges due to their leadership roles. This arrangement makes sense, especially given that these individuals grapple with unique challenges. However, for those observing from the outside, it can create a perception that unless you belong to these exclusive groups, you fall short in terms of success. This mindset can easily permeate one's thoughts and actions, leading to a skewed perspective of what genuine achievement entails.

Before we delve into defining five valid measures of genuine success, let's first explore five misguided approaches often used to gauge success. Relying on these misleading criteria can result in feelings of emptiness, confusion, and even disillusionment.

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Five False Ways to Measure True Success

Success is a nuanced concept that can't be reduced to Material Possessions or Social Media metrics. Associating success solely with expensive possessions or online popularity is misleading, as these often fall short in representing personal fulfillment and a well-rounded life. True success transcends material wealth and is found in experiences, meaningful connections, and personal growth.

Comparing yourself to others is another misstep in measuring success, as everyone's journey is unique. Success should be a personal voyage focused on self-improvement, not outdoing others. Additionally, the belief that Working Extremely Long Hours equates to success is misleading, as it can lead to burnout. True success embraces Work-Life Balance, recognizing that fulfillment goes beyond mere work achievements.

Lastly, pursuing perfection in all aspects of life can lead to anxiety and dissatisfaction. Success should be gauged by progress and personal growth, emphasizing that the journey defines success more than the destination.

True Success with Financial Freedom

Financial Freedom plays a pivotal role in the pursuit of genuine success. Contrary to the misconception that it's merely about accumulating wealth for its own sake, financial freedom is about attaining the independence to craft a life in harmony with your deepest aspirations. True success in this regard isn't about amassing riches as an end in itself, but about having the financial means and flexibility to design a life that reflects your values and passions.

An example of someone who has experienced Financial Freedom is Warren Buffett, one of the world's most successful investors. Warren Buffett's financial success doesn't lie solely in his immense wealth but in the way he has used his financial independence to lead a life that resonates with his core values. Despite being one of the wealthiest individuals on the planet, he maintains a modest lifestyle and continues to live in the same house he bought in the 1950s. This choice exemplifies how he has achieved financial freedom by prioritizing personal fulfillment and purpose over extravagant living. He also continues his voracious reading habit, mentioning that he dedicates about 80% of his day to reading. Additionally, his financial resources have allowed him to make substantial contributions to philanthropic causes, illustrating that his wealth serves as a tool to make a positive impact on the world.

True Success with Freedom of Time

Freedom of time is extremely valuable as time is one of our most valuable resources. Time Freedom symbolizes the power to allocate our hours as we see fit, prioritizing what truly matters in our life. This could mean dedicating more time to relationships, personal hobbies, or actively pursuing our professional and personal interests. Sign up for FREE webinar: Climb Your Summit

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Richard Branson is known for his adventurous spirit and his passion for pursuing personal interests and hobbies. He has successfully balanced his entrepreneurial endeavors with the pursuit of his passions, such as extreme sports, philanthropy, and environmental causes. His love for adventure has led him to engage in activities like hot air ballooning, kite surfing, and even attempts to break world records. What sets Branson apart is his ability to integrate his personal interests and passions into his business ventures. For instance, Virgin Galactic, a subsidiary of the Virgin Group, focuses on commercial spaceflight, aligning with Branson's lifelong dream of exploring outer space.

True Success with Freedom of Choice

Freedom of choice grants individuals the power to plan their lives in accordance with core values and desires. True success goes beyond superficial achievements and material gains – it's about the autonomy to make choices that are deeply aligned with our authentic self. Whether in career decisions, relationship choices, unique aspirations or personal development, it's about being able to navigate life's path without undue external constraints.

An inspiring example of an individual who has truly experienced Freedom of Choice is Oprah Winfrey, the renowned media mogul and philanthropist. Oprah's life story is a testament to her ability to shape her destiny in alignment with her values, desires, and convictions. Oprah overcame a challenging and tumultuous upbringing to become one of the most influential figures in the media industry. She made a series of bold choices throughout her career, from pursuing a career in broadcasting and eventually hosting her talk show, then establishing her own media empire.

In her broadcasting journey, she chose to address important social and personal development issues on her show, providing a platform for open dialogue on topics like health, relationships, and self-improvement. She has also given back to educating young women, especially with a camp called “Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls” founded in 2007. It’s a boarding school in South Africa that provides educational and leadership opportunities to young girls, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds. Oprah’s is but one example of many played out with those who have the freedom to make a difference.

True Success with The Freedom to Grow and Learn

The Freedom to Grow and Learn is the liberty to broaden one's horizons, delve into uncharted territories, and embark on a continuous quest for knowledge and self-improvement. This dimension of success highlights the notion that personal growth and fulfillment are not confined by rigid boundaries; instead, they thrive through the relentless pursuit of new experiences and understanding.

An individual who has embraced the Freedom to Explore and Learn is Dr. Jane Goodall, the world-renowned primatologist and conservationist. Dr. Goodall's lifelong dedication to the study of chimpanzees and her extensive conservation efforts showcase the transformative power of continuous exploration and learning. In the early 1960s, Jane Goodall embarked on an unprecedented journey to Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania, where she conducted groundbreaking research on chimpanzees. Her meticulous observations and discoveries not only redefined our understanding of these primates but also challenged conventional scientific thinking at the time. Her work provided invaluable insights into animal behavior, tool use, and the complex social structures of chimpanzee communities. She also established the Jane Goodall Institute, which is dedicated to wildlife conservation, research, and education.

True Success with Freedom to Contribute

The Freedom to Contribute represents the ability to go beyond personal accomplishments to make a meaningful, positive impact on the world. Success, when viewed through this lens, becomes a purpose-driven journey, where one's desire to give back and serve others takes precedence. It's the recognition that genuine success is not merely self-serving but extends to enriching the lives of others and contributing to the greater good.

A remarkable example of someone who has fully embraced the Freedom to Contribute is Nelson Mandela, the iconic South African anti-apartheid revolutionary and former President of South Africa. Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in prison for his role in fighting against apartheid in South Africa. Despite the immense personal sacrifices he endured, he emerged from prison with a profound commitment to reconciliation and peace. Upon his release, Mandela played a pivotal role in ending apartheid and became South Africa's first black president, working tirelessly to unite the nation. When visiting a wildlife reserve in South Africa, we saw first-hand the impact of Mandela’s visit and his influence, which was very inspiring.


It's crucial to periodically assess the attributes of success we presently experience and compare them to where we were in the past, whether a year or several years ago. It is also crucial to outline our vision for the future, both in the short and long term, while aligning goals with our core values. We can then lead a purpose-driven life that yields deeply satisfying and impactful true success.


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1,423 words

Deborah Johnson

About the author

DEBORAH JOHNSON, M.A., creator of Hero Mountain® and former president of Los Angeles National Speakers Association, is an international award-winning music artist, author, speaker and National Media Commentator. She also hosts the popular podcast "Women at Halftime." Deborah provides tools to create your ideal lifestyle and work at mid-career or during the halftime of life, getting unstuck. You can live your second half fulfilled, focused and free! Up for multiple GRAMMY Awards and spending over 20 years in the entertainment industry, she's an expert on how to constantly reinvent yourself in a gig-economy. She is also the recipient of the Women's Economic Forum Exceptional Women of Excellence Award. Deborah is the author of multiple books, over twenty albums and musicals and speaks and performs in both live and virtual events.

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