What feels like many years ago, but in actuality was only a few years ago, my ninth grade English teacher instructed my class to read a book about how to eliminate barriers to success in our lives. At the time, I was too busy and overwhelmed with trying to fit in that I didn’t apply the lessons–feelings that I felt clearly in my heart–as much as I should have because, quite honestly, I do not believe I was ready to face myself with such brutal rawness as to rip off my metaphorical mask, even to myself. However, being a writer who thrives in a world of written expression, I wrote seven pages of an analysis of what I believed success to be. I wrote, “Success is hard to comprehend until one has experienced it for themselves. I’m too young to define success beyond myself. However, I do know that as long as one feeds that which is against their potential, they are starving their success.”

Now that I have grown a few years and experienced a personal world of successes and failures, I have learned that perhaps I was not just young to define success beyond myself, but I was unjust to do so, and will forever be so. Success is not a term that can be characterized and repressed by deciding words that must be accepted by all. Success is a constantly changing term for every person, as each person is equipped with unique strengths and weaknesses. However, it can be agreed that success is a positive word; those that chase and achieve success find themselves looking upwards and moving forward with progress. No matter what success means to a person, it is always about achieving and discovering personal bests.

In order to build personal success, you need to focus on the person you can be rather than who you have been. Though you should never forget where you've been, as that failure may motivate you, what you focus on will steer you. Once I was riding a motorcycle with my father, and he explained to me that because of the way a motorcycle is designed to turn by leaning, wherever you look is where the bike will go. Life is like that; whatever and wherever you focus on, you will go and find it. Focus on who you want and need to be in order to have personal success. This vision in your mind will be so heavy and prominent that you will have no choice but to accept it as reality and your becoming. It’s like carrying a glass of water straight in front of you; at first when you hold it, it’s light and not burdensome. But the longer you hold it and focus on it, the heavier it gets.

Success is a personal focus and journey. No one can judge another’s life of failures and successes because no one knows another’s story perfectly. You never know where somebody has been, and so you never know how far someone has come. Be kind to everyone because they are all on a journey, including yourself. The actor Matthew McConaughey once said, “We have to define success for ourselves. And then we have to put in the work to maintain it. Take that daily tally. Tend to our garden, keep the things that are important to us in good shape. I mean, let’s admit it. We’ve all got two wolves in us, a good one and a bad one, and they both want to eat. The best I can tell, we just got to feed that good one a little more than the other one.”

A.R. Hansen

Author of Battle of the Mind