The word, "success." According to the American Heritage Dictionary, "success" is a noun that means:
1. The achievement of something desired, planned, or attempted.
2a. The gaining of fame or prosperity.
2b. The extent of such gain.
3. One that is successful.
4. Obsolete. A result or an outcome.
Most of us would probably agree with definition 1. After all, how can you know you have achieved success if you have not worked toward a desire, followed a plan, or tried to reach a target, goal, or objective?
But does that mean, then, that success is solely an end result of an action or series of actions? See definition 4-the dictionary tells us that definition is obsolete.
So if we have not achieved something desired, planned, or attempted, we can still be successful. Let's look at definition 2a and 2b: Success is the gaining of fame or prosperity and the extent of that gain. Now, according to Andy Warhol, we all get our fifteen minutes of fame, but let's focus on "prosperity" and "the extent of" that prosperity, which must be some kind of a favorable gain.
We know we prosper when we reach a target, goal, or objective. But do we prosper on our way to reaching them?
That most likely depends on your perspective of what "success" is. If you look at success as an end result, you will not see prosperity until you achieve your targets, goals, and objectives.
However, if you see success as a journey, you can see prosperity, or favorable gain, with each step you take. Picture a ladder that you climb up. Each rung is a step that takes you closer and closer to your target, goal, or objective. With each step you take, you prosper.
But what if you fall down a rung or are forced to take a step back? Are you still successful?
You can still consider a setback as a step toward a goal. This step might not exactly follow the ladder analogy, where up is forward, but setbacks can actually help you step toward your goal. In fact, they can even be more crucial to your success than "smooth sailing." Why? Because you learn more about yourself, your target, and the relationship between you and your goal when you are required to take corrective action rather than taking strictly correct action.
You might determine along the way, through setbacks and corrective actions, that a particular goal is not right for you. That realization would be a successful realization, even if you end up not achieving the goal.
You might determine that the goal is exactly right for you, and that realization would also be a success along your way to achieving the goal.
You can pretty much find success wherever you look for it. As long as you are taking steps toward a goal, even small ones, then you are extending your prosperity, or favorable gain. When you do this, you are definition 3, "One that is successful."