Home > Articles > Business & Management > Personal Development

From Great to Lasting—Redefining Success

  • Print
  • + Share This
Creating a life that matters is what most everybody wants. The real definition of success is a life and work that brings personal fulfillment and lasting relationships and makes a difference in the world in which they live. Learn how to build that life.
This chapter is from the book

“It was another sleepless night followed by another cruel morning. We were running out of money, and I worried constantly about all the people who had sacrificed to come to work for me. They came and they toiled through the night and struggled to make ends meet for their families. The pressure was overwhelming—sometimes, I had to stop and throw up in the gutter on the way to the office.”

Keeping his dream going was the hardest thing he had ever tried to do in this life. Ed Penhoet had been comfortable as a biochemist and a professor, then reinvented himself as an entrepreneur and found himself barely keeping a fledgling firm afloat. Things would get worse before they got better, and he seriously considered merging with another equally desperate competitor or giving up entirely.

“Famous executives out there fundamentally gild the lily. They don’t tell you the awful truth about the pain you will face. They want you to think they’re brilliant and that they had it figured all out at the beginning. That’s revision-ist history. They might have had a clue, but that’s barely all they had.” Penhoet was teetering on the edge of a humiliating collapse of everything he had worked 24/7 to achieve. He could lose it all. Success as traditionally defined was not even a concept at this point. What Ed faced was the opposite of success—had he looked up the word “success” in the dictionary, he would have scored zero.

Why did he persist? It was not just because he was stubborn. There was something bigger than success at stake. When his favorite uncle died from cancer, he had long ago launched a career in biochemistry, determined to find new ways to bring basic research to the marketplace. That was a lifelong cause that had meaning uniquely to him. It was the way Penhoet would create a life that matters.

Creating a life that matters is what most everybody wants. It’s the subtitle of this book because it’s exactly what we heard from enduringly successful people all over the world. Builders, as we call them, do things because they want to build a meaningful life. They want to create a life that matters, and one of the greatest tests of that conviction comes in those dark moments like those that Ed Penhoet suffered in the early days of his start-up. These are the times when Builders don’t feel successful—at least not in the traditionally defined terms of popularity, wealth, or influence. Yet they nevertheless choose to remain committed to what they care about despite success, not because of it. When faced with what they discover is so important to them, they summon the courage (or foolishness) to persist because it matters to them.

It’s Time to Redefine Success

In fact, we discovered that for most Builders, the culturally accepted measures of success that you find in the dictionary have never been what they were seeking. The standard description must have been written for budding sociopaths. It is defined as

  1. The achievement of something planned or attempted.
  2. Impressive achievement, especially the attainment of fame, wealth, or power.
  3. Something that turns out as planned or intended.
  4. Somebody who has a record of achievement, especially in gaining wealth, fame, or power.1

Notice that nowhere in the dictionary definitions do you find any reference to finding meaning, fulfillment, happiness, and lasting relationships. No mention of feeling fully alive while engaged and connected with a calling that matters to you. No thoughts about creating a legacy of service to the world. Yet those are all realities that people who have lasting success say they value most in life and work.

For Builders, the real definition of success is a life and work that brings personal fulfillment and lasting relationships and makes a difference in the world in which they live. The question is why the rest of us tolerate any other definition.

Folks who chase a fantastic but vain hope for fame, wealth, and power—for its own sake—may even achieve it, only to become miserable and pathetic people. Not that there is anything wrong with that, as Seinfeld would say, but we think that the current definition of success is a potentially toxic prescription for your life and work. It is a description that makes you feel more like a failure than a success if it’s the standard against which all meaning in your life is measured.

Sure, you might be a little strange if you did not enjoy the “impressive achievement” of something that you “planned or intended.” But when you talk with Builders, you will hear that wealth, fame, and power are not actually goals or accomplishments for most of them. Money and recognition are external factors—they are outcomes of passionately working often on an entirely different objective that is often a personal cause or calling, like Ed Penhoet’s drive to find successful treatments for cancer. He chose a way of life that embodied his passions, making a difference to him and the world.

It was not just service or ambition; it was both at the same time. Penhoet’s passion was also his service to the world. On his journey from academic life to entrepreneur, and now in his current role running a nonprofit, Penhoet channeled his passion and made it a business that changed the status quo in medical research.

And, yes, in case you’re wondering, Penhoet and his colleagues eventually enjoyed many of the traditional measures of success, too, such as becoming wealthy, but these measures weren’t his focus. Penhoet’s lifelong cause inspired the creation of Chiron, the company he cofounded in 1981 and where he ended up serving as CEO longer than any other person ever had in that industry. Chiron is a $1.9 billion biotech innovator, and today, Penhoet is well into his second career as director of his friend Gordon Moore’s $5 billion foundation, where he’s supporting the sciences, education, and the environment.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.

Overview


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information


To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.

Surveys

Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.

Newsletters

If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information


Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.

Security


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.

Children


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.

Marketing


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information


If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.

Choice/Opt-out


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information


Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents


California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure


Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.

Links


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact


Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice


We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020