What is Success?

(A compact speech delivered to #PR students in Toronto’s Allan Gardens.)

Oscar Wilde, who delivered a lecture at this very site in 1882, once said, “Success is a science; if you have the conditions, you get the result.” All around us plants and flowers are provided with the climate they need to flourish. Their colours are captivating and their scents are sweet because they have been carefully conditioned for success. 

But outside this conservatory, for professionals such as yourselves, the science of success is less about having conditions and more about making conditions.

“How?“ you ask. In four very simple, personal ways. You sow the seeds of success in your beliefs, your thoughts, your words and your actions. What you believe, what you think, what you say, and what you do in life form your character.

And so it is your character that expands or limits your potential for success. It is your character that encourages or discourages your pursuit of success. It is your character that welcomes or rejects support from others in your success.  Success is a byproduct of your character.

Talk of success often inspires talk of  failure — a dreaded word.  But we shouldn’t fear failure! If you have known Sister Success, you have also known Brother Failure. As siblings, they quarrel but they have one common understanding: success is only ever achieved through persistence and courage in spite of past failure. Success proudly says, “I have learned from my failures!” And so, today’s success is a tribute to yesterday’s disappointments. 

In your pursuit of success, you are challenged to continue your whole-hearted journey despite your failures and called to shape a character that beckons opportunity.  It is my hope that each of you will create conditions for success in your life.

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