Monthly Letters to Pulmonary Patients by Thomas L. Petty

Thomas L. Petty, M.D.

Professor of Medicine, 
University of Colorado

Chairman, National Lung Health Education Program (NLHEP)


National Lung Health Education Program
A collaborative project with



HealthOne Center
1850 High Street
Denver, CO 80218
Phone: 303 839 6755
Fax: 303 832 8137

What is the Definition of Success?

February 1998
PEP Pioneers
Second Wind
Torrance, California

     Dear Friends:

     Most everyone would like to be successful. But how can success be defined? It is often described in concrete terms such as possessions, stature, fame, fortune, position, or something else. In our country's quest to provide opportunity for everyone to be successful, we have undergone many social experiments some good, some partly good, and others clearly bad. Success cannot be guaranteed by birthright, legislation, gifts, loans, or cajoling. In the final analysis, success can only be achieved by factors which come from within. On most occasions, the roots of these strivings for success come from our family, which is both our heritage and personal environment, as well as other societal influences.

     But how can one be sure of success? To me, the answer can only be a feeling of peace, self-satisfaction, accomplishment, and contentment. Thus the definition of success is a personal one and not defined in easily measurable terms. When you are successful, you will know it. And you will be the only one to really know how successful you feel.

     I have heard it said that America is the only country in the world where everyone has an equal right to become unequal. Striving for this level of uniqueness through personal expression and accomplishment is our unique opportunity based upon longstanding tradition and heritage, guaranteed by our Constitution and the right to self-determination. Guard this treasured gift with all your might.

     I will be in touch next month.

    Your friend,

   Thomas Petty, MD

Last update:
14 March 2002