So you're at your nth high school reunion dressed in your best duds and hoping that the natty-ness of your accoutrement hides the twenty pounds you've picked up since your glory days when you bump into Mr. "Most Likely to Succeed." Secretly a little dark and sinister corner of your soul was hoping that the guy would show up with bad teeth, greasy hair, and prison tattoos all over his arms but no such luck (*). As you make small talk about the billions he's made from his better mousetrap, your mind drifts and you begin to contemplate the meaning of success. Back in high school it was easy, fame, fortune, and dating hot supermodels were the definition of success. Now that you're older and more sophisticated, it gets a little more complex. So you pull out your Blackberry and send out a message to the brethren at Art of Manliness to get their ideas on what makes a man successful. What defines a successful man? Who would you consider a model of success? How big a role should career and income have in defining success?

* not intended to be taken as autobiographical

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"Success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal." Every answer comes from that.
I call Jack Ingram the Poet Laureate for the Middle Class, and do so for a reason.

"When I was fifteen, I left home young
Tore up the tracks and then some
Me and my dad didn't see eye to eye
I never took to him, he never took the time
Bullet proof, more than tough
Smarter than he ever was

CHORUS
Well I burned those wheels down the highway
And I learned what I learned the hard way
Do the best you can do, love many, trust few
Work hard for the money in your hands
That's the measure of a man
Yeah the measure of a man

Anger burns, love cools it down
Pretty young woman turned my head around
The world through her eyes looked so different
She lives on faith, she looks for forgiveness
Fool proof, it ain't easy
I need her, she needs me

CHORUS
She stole my heart on this highway
She taught me to love through the hard days
Yeah she's cool when I'm not, she's as steady as a rock
She's as solid as the ring on my hand
That's the measure of a man
Yeah the measure of a man

Last night she handed me a son of my own
It killed me to do it, but I picked up the phone

CHORUS
Hey dad I burned ten years down this highway
And I learned what I learned the hard way
Truth is I need you, we'll cry if we need to
And I'll swallow my pride if you can
That's the measure of a man
Oh yeah, the measure of a man"

Need I say more about success? Whether he wears Armani, or Levi, I consider a man to be successful if he can get up in the morning to go to work and provide for his family, and be happy with what he has in life. 'S the measure of a man.
And to hell with a bunch of jerks that you grew up with. Best you can do there, is show up, be well-mannered, gracious, and not looking to impress anyone. Who knows, you might be surprised. I've encountered a few from high school who're completely different, now.
I think living a life of integrity is what most makes for a successful life. This really encompasses everything. It's about living your life on your own terms, whatever those terms are. I'd have a lot more respect for the guy at the reunion who is scraping by trying to build a living doing what he loves, then the rich guy who hates his job but feels like he needs it to be a "success."
"success" as I define it ... I work hard for the money I bring in to my household, I have three wonderful kids and beautiful loving wife and at the end of the day I lay my head on my pillow knowing I was the best person I could be to my family,friends, and God. I have never met anyone on their death bed saying they wish they spent more time at work. To me, a great role model is any man who brings children into this world is their each step of the way to instill values and groom them to be productive members of society and to be good to their children if they choose to have them.
I'm with Brett. Success is finding a way to align your inner desires with your outer circumstances. The respect of others is not gained through wealth or fame, but through the courage to live your life as you see fit, not as others would have you do so.

Success is unapologetically marching to the beat of your own drummer.
I agree with Chris and Brett. Being known as an honest man and a hard worker doing what you love. That is success.
Consider this. I have lived what some would consider a long life.

I have had more than my fair share of ridiculous adventures, made a mountain of money, seen almost everything the world has to offer, and been drunk on every continent and in quite a few countries.

I have also failed to start a family, make any long term friends who aren't like me or worse, pursue anything approaching a dream, or romance the love of my life.

I am either an absolute success, or an absolute failure. Or perhaps both.

I would argue that we are all of us Faust, with two souls residing within our breast. The question is which one you judge as the better measure of you as a man. I would advise that instead of seeing yourself as you think the world would see you if you were a failed 'Most Likely to Succeed", you make a positive effort to see yourself in a singular light, without anyone else serving as your yardstick. if you find yourself lacking, it's time for some internal synthesis. Make two souls one, and own up to your perceived failures and successes. But measuring yourself by the deeds of others will never lead to real happiness.
Sorry, just had to add this... can't quite remember how I came across it...

What constitutes success?
He has achieved success who has lived well, laughed often and loved much;
who has gained the respect of intelligent men and the love of little children;
who has filled his niche and accomplished his task;
who has left the world better than he found it, whether by an improved poppy, a perfect poem, or a rescued soul;
who has never lacked appreciation of earth’s beauty or failed to express it;
who has always looked for the best in others and given them the best he had;
whose life was an inspiration;
whose memory a benediction.
Simply put, success is defined as the number of people who are better off because you have lived.
“No other success can compensate for failure in the home” -- David O. McKay
I've seen such good replies to this one. Speaking as one of those "Most Likely to Suceed" types, I have certainly redefined sucess as I grew up. I've never made a million, don't drive a hot car (or even really care about cars), don't live in a McMansion, don't bed super models.... I am happy and successful with a job I like and think makes a difference, a loving family, a great wife, a happy comfortable home, hobbies and causes I enjoy. I don't have a mountain of debt from keeping up with everyone or worries about impressing people. That is success.

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