We have all heard the saying “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Abraham Lincoln once said, “Most folks are about as happy as they make their minds up to be.” Thinking about these quotes, I find them applicable to the concept of success in medicine. My adaptation would be that “success in medicine is in the mind of the participant” and that “most physicians are about as successful as they make their minds up to be.”

Would these statements hold up to the rigorous scrutiny of the medical community? Or would they just be dismissed as excuses for not being able to achieve the goals or accolades set and valued in medicine? Is it just a copout because you couldn’t hack it or make it by the definition of success in your medical career? Well, that would really be decided by you at the end of the day. How do you define success in medicine?

Your definition of success in medicine should resonate with you in a way that makes you feel good, feel happy, and feel gratified. But, you can’t live by what others define as success. You have to live by what you define as success. In the end, you have to be satisfied with what you did in medicine, and that can’t be foisted on you by anyone else but yourself.

In a field that is packed with intelligent, driven, goal-oriented, hard-working, and passionate individuals, how do you rise above everyone else and become successful? You have to realize that success is relative, success is personal, and success is circumstantial and contextual. It all starts with a one-step program: Outline what you feel is your description of success by what you feel is important and what you want to accomplish with your life. Nobody can define that for you. You have to define that for yourself. Your job is not to rise above everyone else, but to rise to the level of what you envision is your highest potential and become the best version of yourself.