I remember when I used to do a lot of scuba diving. I lived in Okinawa at the time and it was a fantastic place to participate in that sport. The water was clear, there was a lot of beautiful coral and many varieties of tropical fish. On top of that, you didn't even need a boat. There were numerous places where it was possible to just swim out from the shore a few feet and do a tremendous dive.

But in the beginning, it was quite a chore. First I had to take the diving course to become certified. You could not rent or refill tanks without showing your certification card. To get the certification, I had to learn things such as the theory and mechanics of diving, what kind of dangerous sea creatures to look out for, and all about the equipment.

After I became certified, I went diving as often as I could. I loved it and couldn't get enough of it. Those early days, though, were rather tough. I was not used to carrying and handling the equipment. I was not used to operating in the underwater environment. I had to carefully think through everything before I did anything.

After doing it a while, though, diving was almost second nature. Of course, it was always necessary to be careful and make sure that everything was working right. It would not be good to be sixty feet under water and something go wrong. But over time, with experience, it all became very natural. And the more natural it became, the more I enjoyed it. I started out as a person who wanted to try scuba diving. In the end, I became a good diver.

What else in life works like that? Actually, virtually everything works that way. No matter what we set out to do in life, the beginning stages tend to be a struggle. There are new things to learn and experience to be gained. We become more comfortable as we gain knowledge and experience. This is true whether you are talking about a skill, a relationship, a hobby, or even your job.

There is another area of life that this also applies to, and that is your success. I hear people talking about success all the time. The funny thing is, when you get to talking about it in philosophical terms, almost no-one thinks of it in terms of how much money is in the bank account. However, when just shooting the breeze, money is almost always the way success is measured. There is obviously a connection between success and money, on one level. But on another level there is a real disconnect.

So, is the person who has money successful? Is the person who does not have money unsuccessful? The answer is "yes" on both counts - and "no" on both counts.

The reason both answers can be true at the same time is because there is more than one level that we have to think about. Money is only one measure for evaluating success. When you see a person who has a lot of money, the first thought is that this person has accomplished something good to get the money. But, in actual fact, there are other people who have been successful in fields where money is not the primary marker for success.

For instance, a person can be a brilliant parent and raise a child who goes on to become a fine person. That is wonderful success, but the evidence comes from the character of the child, not in the bank account. Another person may be a master musician and get huge satisfaction out of giving joy to other people, but not be using music to make money.

The bottom line is, success relates to accomplishing a goal, no matter what that goal might be.

So, what we are really dealing with is not any particular expression of success, but the bottom line meaning of success. Ultimately it comes down to an individual's personal value system to determine whether or not success has been accomplished. Every person can become successful at the point where they put their efforts.

So, whether you want to be successful making money, making music, or making a good child, you can do it if you are willing to put forth the time and effort to make it happen.

This is an easy concept to grasp on a surface level, but an exceedingly difficult one to apply to life. It is easy because we can usually see some kind of tangible result which indicates whether or not we are achieving success. But it is difficult because the ultimate determination regarding success is an intangible Ė our own perception of our progress.

So, what does this mean to you? Is this just a philosophical discussion with no practical implications or is it the starting point of a tangible outcome in some area of life? The real life implications are that if you find yourself being unsuccessful at something (anything at all), the basic problem is not the thing itself. You are successful if you have accomplished what you set out to accomplish Ė regardless of the perceptions of others.

Here is where people get into trouble with this. Most want to put the blame for a lack of success outside of themselves. As long as it is someone (or something) else's fault, you can't be expected to do anything about it.

The fact of life is, if something in your life is ever going to be changed, you have to do it - you have to take responsibility for it and re-create yourself. And you can do it! Once you figure that out, you have taken your first step on the road to your success.