At this point, let's consider a compromise viewpoint of success that is so common among "average" people. What do you think would happen if you were to say to a friend: "Since you are not a success, you must be a failure!" With an insult like that, you wouldn't expect to have him or her for a friend any longer. But suppose you and the other person could stay on an even keel, what do you think his follow-up would be? Perhaps, if you were your friend, you would say: "I know what I would
say!" (If your reply is anything like what follows, I want you to figure on a quick change!)
Most would reply: "Oh, I’ll admit I haven't made a big success of things, but I certainly don't think I'm a failure! I could do better, but I get along!" With this attitude, people assign themselves to a never-never land between success and failure. They seem to be able to do enough to keep their heads above water. They "get along" by letting things happen to them. They wouldn't mind holding a winning ticket in what they call the "lottery of life." They seem unwilling to make an investment in success by making things happen. They don't reach the point of wanting to "end it all," but for them too much of the time, life isn't "worth living."
• Not who you are, but what you do
Are these people successful in life? Obviously not! But are they failures? No, not in the sense that they were predestined to live compromised lives. No one is a failure until he says he is. But by not saying he is or will be a success, he is assigning himself to that purgatory where success is always for somebody else. All of this points up one dramatically significant fact—you can't say about those people: "Of course things happen as they do to them. Just look at who they are!" You can't say that it is true of them any more than it is true of successful people.