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Motivated Monday – What Constitutes Success

Success Chalkboard

     In 1905 a Boston magazine held a contest asking people to send in an essay about what constitutes success. A Kansas housewife named Bessie Stanley heard about the contest and submitted her essay. To her surprise she won the contest and the $250 prize that came with it. Later her essay was converted into a poem and then repeatedly misattributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson or Robert Louis Stevenson.

     Her simple definitions of the attributes of a successful person are a great reminder to all of us that success comes in many forms and in an infinite number of areas of life. Find something to improve on every day and you will find success!



He has achieved success who has lived well,
laughed often and loved much;
who has gained the respect of intelligent men
and the love of little children;
who has filled his niche and accomplished his task;
who has left the world better than he found it,
whether by an improved poppy, a perfect poem, or a rescued soul;
who has never lacked appreciation of earth’s beauty
or failed to express it;
who has always looked for the best in others
and given them the best he had;
whose life was an inspiration;
whose memory a benediction.

—Bessie Stanley 1905


  1. Love it! No mention of money, wealth or power. Too many people think that these things are what constitutes success

  2. Excellent way of putting things across! Congratulations!Liked it very much.


  3. I think that poem describes my mom thank you for sharing.

  4. So interesting to read about the true attribution of this poem. Years ago someone gave my Dad this poem on a plaque, and sure enough, it was attributed to Emerson. It did describe my Dad, and although he admired Emerson, he would have appreciated the true story behind it.

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