“I was raised on a small farm in Southern Indiana and Dad tried to teach me and my brothers that you should never try to be better than someone else. Well, somewhere, I guess in the hidden recesses of my mind, it popped out years later. Never try to be better than someone else, always learn from others. Never cease trying to be the best you can be — that’s under your control.

If you get too engrossed and involved and concerned in regard to the things over which you have no control, it will adversely affect the things over which you have control. Then I ran across this simple verse that said, “At God’s footstool to confess, a poor soul knelt, and bowed his head. ‘I failed!’ He cried. The Master said, ‘Thou didst thy best, that is success.’

From those things, and one other perhaps, I coined my own definition of success, which is: peace of mind attained only through self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do the best of which you’re capable. I believe that’s true. If you make the effort to do the best of which you’re capable, to try and improve the situation that exists for you, I think that’s success.

And I don’t think others can judge that. I think it’s like character and reputation. Your reputation is what you are perceived to be; your character is what you really are. And I think that character is much more important than what you are perceived to be. You’d hope they’d both be good, but they won’t necessarily be the same. Well, that was my idea that I was going to try to get across to the youngsters.

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Source: John Wooden: The difference between winning and succeeding (TED 2001)