What is Success?

“Success is about more than simple resilience. It’s about using that downward momentum to people ourselves in the opposite direction. It’s about capitalizing on setbacks and adversity to become even happier, even more motivated, and even more successful.” – Shawn Achor

Years ago when I accepted my first job working in sales, I walked into the position with the intention of making tons of money and “making it big”. At the time, I firmly believed that the key to happiness lay in my pay cheque every two weeks. In order to increase my pay cheque, I read book after book on sales, so that I could become the best sales rep in the company. Within a year, I achieved that goal and earned an award for being in the top ranks of over 800 reps for my company. I had brought in just under half a million dollars in new business and had earned more money in a year than I had in the years before.

I thought that the praise, money and awards would make me happy because I believed that the definition of success was soley a result of how much money I had in my bank account. The truth was, even though I was riding on the success of my first year in sales, I was miserable. I hated the job, the people and the expectation that you lived and died by the numbers on your sales report. That got me thinking about what success really meant for me.

My definition of success today has changed drastically from what it was even a few years ago. Although professional success is important to me, a more holistic approach to my goals and life actually help me perform better.

For example, I’m definitely not the first person into the office in the morning. But these days that’s not important to me. Just because somebody puts more time in, doesn’t mean that their productivity or value to their company is any more than the next person. For me, I like to have the time to meditate, exercise and eat a healthy breakfast before I head on to work. This is important to me because this falls within my definition of success.

Other factors of success for me include:

– Earning the respect of people who I admire and who’s advice I would follow.

– Always being able to have the time to attend to personal matters if necessary.

– Being financially free to chase my dreams and achieve my goals (notice how I didn’t say rich?)

– Having great friends, advisors and mentors in my life who challenge me to perform better but also remind me when to stop and smell the roses.

– Owning a Mini Cooper (I’ve always wanted one since I was in high school)

– Having a reputation based on integrity, authenticity and delivery of results that increase value.

– Be independent of the good or bad opinion of others.

– Be able to handle rejection as a natural part of growth and taking risks.

– Have the time to exercise regularly and learn a new athletic skill every year.

These factors of success for me are what I aim for when I set my goals and make important decisions. While I know that these will change in time, for now this is the ideal definition of success for me.

So I leave you with the question….what’s your definition of success?

35 comments

  1. I am still young and green in my career and in life. So, I will grant you that my definition of success includes being financially stable enough to be comfortable living at home with my farmer boyfriend and helping to support him, his enterprise (and all the maintenance, etc), and our children, while maintaining a job that I enjoy going to where I can help people in a way that only I can help them! I realize this is vague, but that fact leaves me open to accept opportunities and still remain in my definition of success, or that my fine-point definition of job satisfaction or happiness can change as time goes on and I change as I learn more about the real world and other important aspects of life.

    I think it would do well for most adults (over 25) to remember and realize their feelings of being this young and feeling this way; it may help them remember what they are really reaching for, instead of what society or their friends/family want them to reach for. My goals are simple: support my family/husband with my financial stability earned through my achievements and consequent paycheck. (Notice, the paycheck is a means to an end, not the end itself).

  2. Success is a fluid goal for us all. It changes as we adapt to our world, as we progress with age, and as we experience what life has to offer (the good and the bad). I’m an entrepreneur at heart; had three businesses in my past. At each milestone I had a different view of what success meant. Each business was a small success but it always led to the next venture. I am now in my 60’s and the measure of success has changed considerably. I wake up in the morning and I am still breathing and still ambulatory.. and that is a measure of success, but that’s also a measure brought about by my approaching age where the inevitable physical issues will take hold sooner than later. Thirty years ago my measure of success would have been more material and financial in nature. I guess my point is, your measure of success today will likely not be the same measure years from now. Be prepared for change, enjoy the present while it is here, and set your goals, not in stone but rather on paper, and in pencil. The time will come when you hand over that aging MiniCooper to your son with the pride and preamble that this is what financial success brought you when you first started out. He will likely stare at it and remark, “This is a measure of your success, dad?”, and you will reply, “No, son. You are.” :)

  3. Success is a fluid goal for us all. It changes as we adapt to our world, as we progress with age, and as we experience what life has to offer (the good and the bad). I’m an entrepreneur at heart; had three businesses in my past. At each milestone I had a different view of what success meant. Each business was a small success but it always led to the next venture. I am now in my 60’s and the measure of success has changed considerably. I wake up in the morning and I am still breathing and still ambulatory.. and that is a measure of success, but that’s also a measure brought about by my approaching age where the inevitable physical issues will take hold sooner than later. Thirty years ago my measure of success would have been more material and financial in nature. I guess my point is, your measure of success today will likely not be the same measure years from now. Be prepared for change, enjoy the present while it is here, and set your goals, not in stone but rather on paper, and in pencil. The time will come when you hand over that aging MiniCooper to your son with the pride and preamble that this is what financial success brought you when you first started out. He will likely stare at it and remark, “This is a measure of your success, dad?”, and you will reply, “No, son. You are.” :)

  4. For me, success is not relative to others – not because I’m smarter than others, not because I started a company that’s bigger than others, not because I’m richer than others, not because I’m physically stronger than others. A measure of success like that would probably not make me very happy.

    For me, success is about be able to follow my passion and maximize the usage of my talents to have a positive impacts on the society. To do so on a daily basis is already a success; and if it’s good work, good things will naturally follow and take care of themselves.

    1. I concur with you Vincent. My estimation of success is based upon my ability to pursue my passion. And while some passions may not bring in droves of financial resources, the sense of fulfillment from being a “passionpreneur” is priceless. The most definite measure of success that I’ve had in life is discovering the greatness that lies within me. This freed me from society’s money oriented definition of success and allowed me to impact my own life and the life of my clients in a greater fashion.

  5. For me, success is not relative to others – not because I’m smarter than others, not because I started a company that’s bigger than others, not because I’m richer than others, not because I’m physically stronger than others. A measure of success like that would probably not make me very happy.

    For me, success is about be able to follow my passion and maximize the usage of my talents to have a positive impacts on the society. To do so on a daily basis is already a success; and if it’s good work, good things will naturally follow and take care of themselves.

    1. I concur with you Vincent. My estimation of success is based upon my ability to pursue my passion. And while some passions may not bring in droves of financial resources, the sense of fulfillment from being a “passionpreneur” is priceless. The most definite measure of success that I’ve had in life is discovering the greatness that lies within me. This freed me from society’s money oriented definition of success and allowed me to impact my own life and the life of my clients in a greater fashion.

  6. to me success is an aspiration, a journey, not a ‘fait accompli’ as we have the ability to constantly learn and improve ourselves. it is being mindful, present, happy and generous–whilst moving towards our goals….i’m constantly re-evaluating my definition of my success. thanks for the great questions and shared insights.

    1. Haha. The Mini Cooper is just a COOL car. It has a great character to it. Although, I’d have to say a runner up would be the Tesla Electric Sports Car. Check it out at teslamotors.com

  7. Success, for me, is simple: The ability to do something every day that makes me happy. The ability to work hard for an organization I believe in and make enough money to support myself and maybe even buy a few nice things and take a vacation once a year. And, a Mini Cooper would be nice too.

  8. Success, for me, is simple: The ability to do something every day that makes me happy. The ability to work hard for an organization I believe in and make enough money to support myself and maybe even buy a few nice things and take a vacation once a year. And, a Mini Cooper would be nice too.

  9. Haha. The Mini Cooper is just a COOL car. It has a great character to it. Although, I’d have to say a runner up would be the Tesla Electric Sports Car. Check it out at teslamotors.com

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