How do you define success?

Success is the opposite of failure.

Yes, according to the all-knowing Webster’s Dictionary, failure is indeed the antonym of success. But is this comparison at all practical when it comes to defining a successful life?

If we were to take this definition and apply it literally to life, then we would be able to call a life successful if and only if it existed without even a single instance of failure. That means a person would have to live an utterly pristine and perfect life in order to be called successful.

No mistakes, no hiccups, no nothing.

By this definition of success, I think on a good day I would be able to call my life one giant, glorious, magnificent catastrophe.

And even that would be sugarcoating things for this past year.

You see, a year ago I decided that I would leave behind all things conventional, trading in an orthodox lifestyle for that of a digital nomad. I knew at the time that the decision I was making would leave me without a home address, normal business hours, and far away from family.

What I didn’t realize at that time was that I would also have to leave behind the traditional definition of success.

Over this past year I have failed too many times to count.

Some times they were small failures, such as mixing up my Italian vocab to tell my neighbors in Rome that we were throwing a party for a rock instead of for a newly ordained priest. Other times they were comical failures, like the epic face plant I took while skiing down a glacier in Austria. And then there were of course the terrifying, major failures, like how I landed in Brussels without an apartment to live in and no one to fall back on.

As you can imagine, the failures came in many shapes and sizes. Really the only consistency was that they just kept coming, one after another.

So yes, if you were to measure the success of my life by the amount of times I was able to avoid failure, then I’m pretty sure I should accept defeat now and save me from myself.

One problem though -

I burned that white flag of surrender a long time ago, and I am too far from defeat to ever make use of it anyway.

You see if you stop at the failures, you miss the second, and in my opinion the more beautiful, half of my story. Because after every single one of those failures, even the rock bottom hopeless ones,

I got back up again.

Again and again and again.

I am still here, I am still fighting, and I will rise again no matter what.

To me this is the greatest success of all.

Don’t let failure define your success.

Saying you’re successful just because you haven’t failed yet is as ridiculous as describing light as “uh, not dark.” Technically you are right, but only because you have a very limited vocabulary and are ignoring the most important part to the story.

Remember, the greatest successes are born from the most brutal of failures.

So take the time to redefine success for yourself, not as your talent to avoid failure at all costs but rather as your ability to rise again and thrive no matter what obstacle life throws in your way.

As for me, I will define success as staring defeat straight in the face only to say

“Not today. Not ever.”