You are worth more than what you’ve accomplished. 

That goes whether you’ve accomplished a lot or a little— or whether your accomplishments have been recognized by others, or if they’re the kinds of accomplishments that few or no other people even know about. 

You’re STILL worth more than those accomplishments. 

We have a tendency in our culture to be very preoccupied with external measures of success. 

And don’t get me wrong, I love external measures of success. External measures of success  are often a sign that things are going right in someone’s life, and for that reason I celebrate them as much as anyone else. 

It’s great that you’re making the money you’re making. 

It’s great that your body looks and feels the way you want it to look and feel. 

It’s great you were able to finish that race, to climb that mountain, to hike that trail. 

It’s great that you got that promotion or that your business is doing well. 

Success is certainly preferable to lack of success in a lot of ways.

The thing is, we tend to confuse “success” with “personal worth.” 

They’re not the same. They’re not even particularly related. 

Success is often determined by our ability to develop and use specific skills. Yes, there’s a lot of luck involved too, and sometimes privilege comes into play, but in the best of all worlds, success often represents the fact that we’ve been able to figure out what we need to do and when we need to do it in order to conquer a specific set of goals and objectives in a specific domain. 

That’s certainly worth celebrating. 

But don’t think that success is what gives you, or anyone else, worth as a person. 

Similarly, don’t think lack of success deprives you, or anyone else, of worth as a person. 

Many people make this mistake every day…and the emotional costs are staggering. 

They get it in their heads that because they are not as successful as they’d prefer, in domains that are important to them…they must be worthless. 

They’ve been told boneheaded stuff by life coaches to the tune of, “your results are a reflection of you.” 

They’ve seen how the culture— and, often even those close to them— worship and respect success, and they leap to the conclusion that since they are not as outwardly successful as others, they have no shot at being admired or respected. 


A lot of it has to do with confusion about the concept of “worth.” 

Not many people have been taught a lot about what makes someone “worthy.” 

Worthy of what? Love, attention, kindness, resources. Worthy to take up space and breathe air and exist. 

No amount of success can “make” someone worthy. 

No lack of success can deprive a person of worth. 

It is not the case that only “worthwhile” people succeed. Lucky people often succeed, talented people often succeed, hard working people often succeed, privileged people often succeed, random people often succeed. 

And often they don’t, too. 

But success is not a litmus test of “worth.” 

For worth to be real, it has to be based something fundamental to who someone is. And success, as any successful (or once successful) person can tell you, comes and goes, sometimes overnight. 

Your worth is not determined by your success. 

Your worth is not impacted by your success. 

Your worth transcends success, failure, feelings, relationships, and calamities. 

It even transcends your own perception of your worth. 

The trick is coming to truly accept that— and to accept the need to let go of the false success/worth connection in our heads. 


Do you derive value from the Doc’s work? Help him out in his 200 mile relay race to fight human trafficking– every dollar counts!

One thought on ““Success” and “worthiness” are not related.

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