Business Idioms 13: Success III

This lesson will focus on using a variety of expressions related to success.


This lesson will help you use these idioms describing success. You will also get a chance to talk about your own experiences.

Warm Up: 

How do you measure success?


Please consider each expression and match them to the images. Your instructor has an example and a question regarding each one. 

  1. plain sailing—easy, without problems.
  2. strike gold—do, find or make something that will be very profitable or successful, sometimes by chance.
  3. stop at nothing—not allow anything to stop you achieving your aim.
  4. (the) light at the end of the tunnel—the end of a difficult process.
  5. set your sights on [something]—decide that you will achieve some goal.
  6. sow the seeds of success—start a process which will produce success in the future.
A. B.
C. D.
E. F.



A. Complete the anecdote

Read each section and choose an appropriate idiom from the list above.

  1. The CEO had a reputation for being determined to succeed at any cost. People said that he would fire his best people, steal from his competitors and even break the law to gain an advantage in the market. Some people have limits, but this man would…
  2. The early stages in the development of a new company are very important in terms of ensuring the future of the business. Hiring the right people and giving them the right environment to express themselves is one way to…
  3. The pharmaceutical company invested a lot of money in R&D, hoping that their researchers would one day develop a drug to cure the common cold. If they could find such a cure, the company would make a huge profit on their investment. So they kept going year after year, in the hope that they would eventually…

  4. Ambition is an important factor in success, so it is vital that you choose your path carefully, and make a rational decision. Some targets cannot be reached, so it’s not a good idea to choose something unrealistic to…

  5. The government announced that there were signs that the recession was coming to an end after many years of economic hardship. They were careful to say that there was still a long way to go, but the good news was that they could see…

  6. The new computer system was very confusing and slow. The IT department explained that difficulties like this are very common and reminded the designer that they had been warned that learning how to use the new software wouldn’t be…

B. Discussion

Use idioms to discuss the following topics.

  1. Is it possible to be too ambitious? 

  2. How does your company maintain its market position?
  3. Describe one difficulty and one easy thing about your last project.



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