What is Success?

successI have struggled over the years, especially since my Dad passed away, with my personal definition of success. Earlier today I posted a comment during a Twitter chat on people skills that has ended that search. Here is that comment:

“You are successful when the people around you succeed and you help them succeed by caring. “

When I look around my world and think about how I feel and react to situations in my life I realize that it is very important to me that the people in my life succeed. And that people know I care about their success. I was told once that I would; “never be successful” because I cared about my people. My response was; “I have been successful because people know I care.” For me that is the most important measure of success. Whether it is in business, friendship or in my family, success is found when others meet their goals.
That is my personal definition. What is important to realize is that everyone’s definition is different. For some the measure of success is financial, for others it is status or position, and for others it is measured in wins and losses. In each area the definitions and measurements for each person will be different. And while success may have a different definition and a different set of measurements for each person there are some things that should all be a part of success. The first ingredient should be integrity. As we have seen, far too often in the world of sports over the past few years, winning at all costs has become more important than winning the right way. The use of steroids, HGH and other performance enhancing drugs has not only put a black mark on the history of great games and people it has resulted in fewer people in the stands. People who have spent a day or twos pay just to buy a ticket to a game are deciding to stay home. Winning is not success, without integrity!

True success includes action not just words. I had a Manager tell me once that; “presentation was more important than substance.” This Manager was a person focused on status. Where he stood in the company was more important to him than how he got there. We have seen over the years, especially in politics, that there are many people who can talk a good game. But, that when it comes to getting things done the actions don’t live up to the words. A presentation without substance and actions is a waste of time. If I were to sit with my children and discuss the importance of reading to their future and they never pick up a book to read, was I successful? No, because my discussion never turned into action. Success is not about words, it’s about actions taken as a result of those words.

Success is not singular. No matter what we may think we are not successful by ourselves. Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are two of the greatest Quarterbacks in football history. Without great receivers catching the ball they would not be successful. As great leaders they understand the importance of not only their receivers but also the rest of the team. Great business leaders such as Jack Welch and Bill Gates have gained their success with the help of all those with which they work. They lead but they are not alone. Success comes by believing in and having empathy for the people you engage with every day. Great social Leaders succeeded in creating change by inspiring people and leading them in a new direction. They did not make the changes alone. Success is not only about you, it is about the people around you.

Success takes competence and confidence. To be successful a person must be willing to learn and continue to learn. They must understand that having an open mind to learning is vital to having confidence. Can you be successful without being confident in yourself? Can you be confident in yourself without being competent in your subject? The answers are no. A musician that gets on stage and makes the show better than the song will not be truly successful. After my Dad passed away I was challenged by a former boss on my beliefs on leadership. My job was changed and I lost confidence in myself. Almost two years later I started reading again with a focus on leadership books, articles and blogs. I learned a lot and regained confidence in my competence on the subject. I took that confidence to a new level which resulted in me writing my blog. Success comes from believing in yourself and gaining belief from others.

One of the things I have learned through my reading and self-examination is that success is much like finger prints, there are no two definitions that will be exactly the same. The definition I have written for myself is not going to be the same that anyone else will write. Each have our own priorities, our own vision of what we see in ourselves and our own beliefs in how we want to be seen. Some may say that success comes from having a strong personal brand. Others will say success is about being a leader in their community. While others will see success as feeding their family three meals a day and having a safe place to live. The important thing is to have a goal for what success is to you, and to make it happen. Believe in yourself, learn and keep learning, bring others with you, act on your beliefs and always have integrity in the things you do. Success is within us all.

What is your definition of success?


3 thoughts on “What is Success?

  1. I believe that my success is best measured by determining if the situation and the players in that situation are better off because of my influence and work, than they were prior to my engagement. If I have not left the people and projects that I work with better because of my involvement, than I have failed on a foundational level. Bottom lines are important, but people are critical, and it is my desire that I always conduct myself and my business in a way that will improve the lives of those that I work with and leave each situation I am involved in better than how I found it.

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