Principles and Values
The foundation of success is having deeply rooted principles and values. These are the things you believe are universal truths and are important for all to follow. For most people these include things like honesty, integrity, kindness, doing the right thing (just because it is the right thing to do), and humor. It is only possible to uphold these in your own life if you surround yourself with others who share them. If you start keeping company with people who don't share your principles and values, you will either begin to adopt some of theirs, or end up alienating them as you attempt to hold them accountable for yours.
Sense of Mission and Purpose
Why are you here? This is perhaps the most difficult part to finding success. We must first understand what we are on the planet to do. This is a different question than discovering what particular job or career we want. Are you here to make the world more beautiful or to provoke thought through the arts? Are you here to care for and nurture others? Perhaps you are here to solve some great societal ill, to protect others or to heal the sick. Maybe you are someone who is a steady, consistent force in a community that moves things forward. Or you might be someone who creates opportunities for others to care for their families by creating employment. Your true purpose has to be the driving force of your life even if it is not the way you make money. Only then will you feel successful.
Everybody likes to have fun. Workaholics or those whose means are not sufficient will suffer the same fate. The workaholic simply doesn't take the time to enjoy the simple pleasures in life. Someone who does not have enough money to provide for basic survival truly doesn't have the time. Both of these people can feel like they are on a treadmill, unable to get off and feel successful.
The Role of Failure
Failure gets our attention in a hurry. If something doesn't go the way we believe it should, we tend to feel unsuccessful. When I fail, I tend to go back and question every decision I made. I play all of the scenarios back in my mind to discover if I should have done something differently. This kind of self-reflection is healthy to a point. If we use our own feedback to be better the next time, it is useful. But if we use it as a weapon against our own self-worth, it can be destructive. Most people do the very best they can and make the best decisions they can, based on the information that is in front of them. They don't set out to fail.
Once failure gets your attention, you have to decide what to do with it. Do you want to go back and try the same thing again...OR do you want to use the experience as an important motivation to do something else? To answer these questions, you have to go back to your mission and purpose. What are you here to do? What will be the most powerful and expedient way to do it? As you move toward that, you must always incorporate your principles and values and remember to have fun along the way. If you can do that, you are truly successful.