We all want to be successful. But what does success really mean? Albert Einstein, one of the most brilliant minds in history, had a unique perspective on success that we can all learn from.


Albert Einstein is universally regarded as a genius. His theories of relativity fundamentally transformed our understanding of physics and the nature of the universe.

But Einstein wasn’t concerned with fame or conventional measures of success. He cared more about making a meaningful contribution to humanity. As he put it:

“Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.”

Einstein’s definition of success provides an important lesson for us all. Are you chasing promotions, raises, and trophies? Or are you focused on uplifting others and making the world a little better?

True success lies in adding value, not garnering accolades.

The Genius Who Transformed Physics

In 1905, at just 26 years old, Einstein published four groundbreaking scientific papers. One introduced his special theory of relativity, which revealed that time is not absolute as previously thought.

Over the next decade, Einstein continued developing his general theory of relativity. This radically changed our understanding of gravity and the structure of the universe.

Einstein’s ideas were nothing short of revolutionary. He became world-famous and won the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics.

But fame and prestige didn’t drive Einstein. He was motivated by curiosity and a desire to understand the mysteries of the universe. Adding value through his research was more important to him than being a “success.”

Contributing Value Over Chasing Fame

As Einstein’s renown grew, he received numerous honors and awards. He was asked to travel the world giving lectures and speeches.

But Einstein disliked the fame and publicity. He turned down many opportunities to speak publicly about his work.

In his personal life, Einstein also shunned the trappings of success. He never wore socks and often forgot his keys. His unruly hair and casual clothes gave him an eccentric, absent-minded professor look.

For Einstein, surface-level definitions of accomplishment meant little. He was far more interested in his research and collaborating with fellow physicists than being a celebrity.

Lasting Significance Through Serving Others

Einstein was an outspoken pacifist. Horrified by World War I, he advocated for peace and democracy. He was committed to social justice and believed science should serve humanity.

During World War II, Einstein’s theories enabled the creation of the atomic bomb. Einstein lobbied Franklin D. Roosevelt to pursue nuclear weapons research to counter the German threat.

But when the devastating effects of nuclear bombs became clear, Einstein dedicated himself to preventing future nuclear conflict. His social activism is an example of using one’s platform and talents to benefit the world.

Einstein knew lasting significance doesn’t come from racking up personal achievements. It comes from uplifting others and leaving the world better than you found it.

The Most Worthwhile Pursuit

Living a life of value over a life of success is not easy. It requires looking beyond ourselves to see how we can contribute meaningfully.

Next time you set a goal, consider how achieving it will help others. Make decisions motivated by curiosity and service, not ego.

Success is nice, but significance is better. Getting one more accolade likely won’t matter much in the long run. But lifting up even one person? That carries eternal value.

Einstein showed that the most brilliant individuals don’t have to chase conventional success. They can focus on science, creativity, and helping humanity progress.

We may not all be Einsteins. But we can all strive to be more valuable and find fulfillment in uplifting others. As the genius himself put it:

“Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.”

That is the path to true meaning and a life well lived.

Key Takeaways

  • Einstein cared more about contributing value than accumulating fame and success.
  • His theories of relativity transformed physics, but Einstein stayed focused on research.
  • Einstein used his platform to advocate for peace and social justice causes.
  • Achieving lasting significance comes through uplifting others, not racking up personal achievements.
  • We can all find fulfillment in contributing value rather than chasing the trappings of success.


Success is nice, but significance is better. Einstein’s life showed that real meaning comes from curiosity, serving humanity and adding value.

So stay humble. Look beyond yourself. Make your skills count for others. That is the Einstein way to true greatness.