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The Four Requirements of Success

Dec. 8, 2022
Patience is the thread that runs through a person's pursuit of a worthwhile goal.

Everyone wants to be successful, but most people have different concepts of success.  Usually, these concepts feature end-point definitions. Success, however, it not an end-point. It is not a place. It is a state of being. What makes a person successful? According to one of the greatest motivational speakers of all time, the late, great Earl Nightingale, success carries four requirements. Here they are.

Earl Nightingale defined success as, “the progressive realization of a worthwhile personal goal.” In this simple definition, considered by many to be the best definition of success ever written are the four requirements. 

1. Success is a Journey 

Success is theprogressive realization.  It is not a fixed point in time.  It is not a place or position where you arrive.  Success is a journey.  This implies that success involves growth. The successful person does not stagnate. He does not stop learning,
growing, evolving, or trying. The successful person does not coast, which involves traveling downhill.

You must be achieving. If you stop, you also stop being successful. 

If you want to be successful, you must be going somewhere. You must be growing. You must be achieving. If you stop, you also stop being successful. 

This requirement is reassuring. Since anyone can grow, anyone can progress, anyone can fulfill this requirement of success. 

2. Success is Positive

Nightingale says success requires the progressive realization of a worthwhile personal goal.  By implication, the successful person is one who does noble work, who builds, who creates, who adds value to the world. You cannot be a success if you try to build yourself up by tearing down others; that is not worthwhile. You cannot be a success and be destructive or spread misery; that is not worthwhile.

Contractors who regularly point out the failings of their competitors and who disparage other contractors cannot be successful.  Success involves worthwhile activities that make the world better. You simply cannot make the world better by destroying or attempting to destroy others.

Successful contractors practice emulation, not envy. They look for competitors who perform better and seek to emulate their good traits.  Unsuccessful contractors fall into the envy trap and consume themselves with resentment when peers appear to outperform them. 

3. Success is Persona

Success is the progressive realization of a worthwhile personal goal. It is not my goal that matters. It is not your spouse’s goal.  It is your goal. You cannot be successful pursuing someone else’s goal because doing this means not being true to yourself. 

As parents, we often encourage our children to pursue goals important to us, but that are not necessarily important to our children. My father did this with me when he forced me to take piano when I wanted to play baseball. I did the same with my daughter when I pushed her to play soccer when she wanted to compete in pageants and perform in the theater. 

I was never going to be successful playing the piano because, aside from a distinct lack of talent, it was not my goal. I did not enjoy it and would not put in the required time to become good. Likewise, my daughter was never going to be successful in soccer for the same reasons. You cannot be successful pursuing someone else’s goal for you.

4. Success is Achievement Focused

Finally, success involves the progressive realization of a worthwhile personal goal.  This requires achievement. You must reach for goals, even stretch for them. While you are in the pursuit the goal, you are being successful. When you achieve the goal, you need a new goal to continue being successful. This is why successful people are never content with the status quo. They are always in the pursuit of something better or greater.

Anyone can meet the four requirements of success. Thus, anyone can be successful. Remember, success is a state of being, not a place where you rest on your laurels. Success knows no age. It knows no income. It is a state of being that can be attained by making a decision and acting upon it.

Would you like some help achieving your goals?  If so, join the Service Roundtable and surround yourself with successful contractors who are making a difference in their companies, communities, and industry.  Get stated for just $50 a month at or call 877.262.3341 today to get started on your success journey.

About the Author

Matt Michel | Chief Executive Officer

Matt Michel was a co-founder and CEO of the Service Roundtable ( The Service Roundtable is an organization founded to help contractors improve their sales, marketing, operations, and profitability. The Service Nation Alliance is a part of this overall organization. Matt was inducted into the Contracting Business HVAC Hall of Fame in 2015. He is now an author and rancher.