A Newer, Truer Definition of Success

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary says that success is “the fact of getting or achieving wealth, respect, or fame,” but isn’t there more to success? We think so—and so do the more than 100,000 people who signed our petition to change Merriam-Webster’s official definition during our Readdress Success campaign. At Strayer University, we launched the campaign to start a new conversation about success, what it is, and what it takes to achieve it.

changing the conversation:
new ideas about success

To explore and understand success, we did our homework. We talked to people from all walks of life to find out what success means to them. Here’s what we found out: 90% of Americans believe that success is defined more by happiness than by wealth, power and fame.

The conversations we have with family, friends and colleagues about what success really means are very different from the official definition in the dictionary. We think it’s time for a change. So here’s our new definition: Success is happiness derived from good relationships and achieving personal goals.

The Power of Personal Stories: Our Readdress Success Partners

  • A man wearing a blue suit standing in a red telephone booth talking on the phone.

    When the award-winning creative team at SoulPancake took to the streets to ask people how they define success, they set the stage for a series of thought-provoking and heartwarming stories. What happens when strangers come together to share their dreams, or when sons, daughters, mothers and friends call the people they love the most to say “thank you?” Don’t miss The Success Series by SoulPancake.

  • A spit screen shows on the left a woman holding a sign that reads the number four (4) and on the right a picture of her and her brother having an emotional embrace as he holds the number ten (10).

    Positive journalism and digital technology firm A Plus looked at success from a different perspective: What do our loved ones really think of us, and how do they inspire and support our success? They asked people to rate their own success on a scale of 1 to 10. Take a look to find out what happened when their loved ones did the same. 

  • An older Chef with white hair being interviewed with Inc. logo in the lower left corner.

    Inc. magazine talked to luminaries and leaders about their views on success. What did Doug Rauch, founder of Daily Table and former president of Trader Joe’s, and Chef Eric Ripert, co-owner and executive chef of the world-famous restaurant Le Bernardin have to say about success? Find out in these Inc. magazine interviews. 

  • Anthony Anderson sitting at a table with a little girl wearing glasses, smiling while re-defining success in Merrium Websters Dictionary.

    Before being nominated for an Emmy for his leading role on the television sitcom Black-ish, actor and comedian Anthony Anderson overcame rejection and setbacks on the road to success. His interview with a pint-sized journalist takes a playful approach to defining success. “I love what I do. That’s what makes me a success,” says Anderson.

What this means for you: supporting your vision of success

Students are “most likely to succeed” when they have a network of tools and services help them through their educational journey.  That is exactly what Strayer strives to provide.   Success Coaches connect students to resources for financial, academic and emotional support. Tutoring services offer additional reinforcement for understanding course materials, and our unique Graduation Fund gives students who complete their degrees the chance to save up to 25% in tuition costs, motivating them to finish school and helping to make college more affordable.

own your

Plant the seeds for success. Find out Strayer can help you build, learn and grow. Contact an admission officer for more information about Strayer's undergraduate and graduate programs.