What is Success – Words have meanings

Originally Published January 14, 2018

Originally Published January 14, 2018

“Success” – noun

1530s, "result, outcome," from Latin successus "an advance, a coming up; a good result, happy outcome," noun use of past participle of succedere "come after, follow after; go near to; come under; take the place of," also "go from under, mount up, ascend," hence "get on well, prosper, be victorious," from sub "next to, after" (see sub-) + cedere "go, move" (from PIE root *ked- "to go, yield"). Meaning "accomplishment of desired end" (good success) first recorded 1580s. Meaning "a thing or person which succeeds," especially in public, is from 1882.

Throughout the history of the word “success”, it focuses on goingmovinggo near totake the place of, and various other forward thinking and goal oriented notions. There is the idea of achieving a desired end, but the meaning of this word has never been associated with quitting or halting upon reaching that desired end. 

Some have heard “success breeds success”. This phrase rings true on many levels. First, all it takes is one successful experience (no matter how small), to build the desire to experience a greater success. Understanding the work, diligence, and effort it takes to have that first taste of victory helps drive us to work even harder to feel it again and again. Second, people who want to increase their success will surround themselves with and seek advice from others who are successful. Third, those who have a history of success want to help others who are working towards greater success.

This takes us to our next word of focus.

“Leader” – noun

Old English lædere "one who leads, one first or most prominent," agent noun from lædan "to guide, conduct" (see lead (v.)). Cognate with Old Frisian ledera, Dutch leider, Old High German leitari, German Leiter. As a title for the head of an authoritarian state, from 1918 (translating Führer, Duce, caudillo, etc.). Meaning "writing or statement meant to begin a discussion or debate" is late 13c.; in modern use often short for leading article (1807) "opinion piece in a British newspaper" (leader in this sense attested from 1837). The golf course leader board so called from 1970.

The origins of the word “leader” finds its meaning tied to “one of first or most prominent”. A leader will be among the first in attempting and driving towards the completion of a goal. A leader is “to guide” or “conduct”. Who are you willing to allow in as your guide, who will help conduct your aspirations?

Now I want to put these words together, success and leader. To succeed as a leader, it is vital that the direction is consistently, “going, or moving” as well as having a passion, “to guide, conduct”. A successful leader does not stop, he or she does not see the accomplishment of a goal as the final target. They do not hold those successes to themselves, they help guide or conduct others towards success.  To be a successful leader one must convince others that there is value to move in the same direction as you (the guide). 

Compare and contrast, the next word of focus.

“Manage” – verb

1560s, probably from Italian maneggiare "to handle," especially "to control a horse," ultimately from Latin noun manus "hand" (from PIE root *man- (2) "hand"). Influenced by French manège "horsemanship" (earliest English sense was of handling horses), which also was from Italian. Extended to other objects or business from 1570s. Sense of "get by" first recorded 1650s. Related: Managed; managing. Managed economy was used by 1933.

Notice here that the word “manage” refers more to terms of control like, “to handle” or “to control a horse”. I bring this up to point out a vast difference between a manager and a leader. A manager has responsibilities to help make sure that certain items, tasks, or duties are accomplished and kept under control. A leader persuades, encourages, inspires followers to work towards excellence with passion and desire. Both roles are needed in corporations, but these words are not synonyms.

Someone can be a leader in their role or position and help those around them to succeed. They do not have to be a manager to be a leader. Whether you are a manager, a technical expert, or a functional guru, you will be looked to as a leader. What are you going to do with the knowledge that others see you as a leader? Will you fulfill that expectation and seek to lead? Nothing states that in order to lead someone must give the commands. Some of the best leaders in the world are also the best followers. A great military officer will listen and learn from the enlisted personnel who have proven themselves as functional experts. These functional experts have honed their skills through training and practical knowledge to the point that they are leaders in their area of expertise. 

Successful leadership is an art. If you watch an artist at work, nothing is rushed. An accomplished musician in a philharmonic orchestra will practice each piece for countless hours before performing. A skilled painter will have trained over the course of years with their medium. Likewise, great leaders never quit trying to be better at leading. Whether your artistic passions be athletics, chess, archery, or any other zeal, the desire to improve never goes away. The artist (aka leader) takes the time to learn, applies that learning, learns from the effect of that application, and seeks to learn some more about their passion.

Also, it is important to remember that leaders are not perfect. Be willing to stub your toe, scratch your elbow, or bruise your ego. Do not be afraid to lead, as those who want to follow you will do so, in spite of your scars acquired from lessons learned along the way. Have a love and care for those who look to your leadership. Fall in love with leading, not for the sake of position, but rather because you care deeply for those around you.


Word definitions were acquired from www.etymonline.om

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