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Success: How Do You Define It?

Let’s start this series on Success by examining what it means. Merriam-Webster defines it as “a degree or measure of succeeding”, or “favorable or desired outcome (the attainment of wealth, favor or eminence).”

As I’ve previously noted, 2023 will be a year where I spend some time examining what success means to me and how I look at it regarding others, businesses and organizations. Let’s face it, we all judge others against our own framework of success. I can tell you that my framework has changed over the years. I know I fell in the trap of money and power defining where I stood on the success staircase. There were times I was not satisfied with the position I held or the amount of money I was making in comparison to others. Especially when comparing my achievements in similar roles. I knew that life was not fair, but it didn’t stop me from feeling like I was worth more than others. My professional life was doing more for more people with fewer resources. I felt I was relatively successful, though I wanted more – more money, more recognition, more and better opportunities to grow, etc.

Using the M-W definition above, I’m not sure I looked at my accumulation of wealth, favor or eminence in that successful range. In comparison to others, there were always others doing so much more, seemingly. That “comparison” is what gets me in so much trouble and is where, in semi-retirement, I have been determined to help re-define what success will look like for me going forward. Therein lies the power of success. In the end, I get to define what success looks like for me. My psyche gets in trouble when I compare myself to others or let others definition of success define mine.

My semi-retirement has me very comfortable, financially. Part of my work now as a consultant, is working with other non-profits and for-profit businesses in a very limited role, but one that I am confident in and feel like I have something to offer. I also work part-time at a major outdoor retailer. My role there is very defined, though I’m determined to help the younger employees understand how they can improve in their current role that will set them up for success in their next role. In essence, what really matters in life when they layer in their work.

There is a lot of talk about each generation having different values around work and life. And though there are some generalized differences, I would say that we are all aiming for the same result – to serve people the best we know how. There is no best or one way to accomplish this. It’s connecting with people, and we all have different ways to do that. In the end, I believe that it’s through those connections that we find our success. Our ability to accept and relish in our success depends on how we compare ourselves to others and how we see success in others, plus how we are affected by society’s attitude towards success.

My challenge to you is to find what success means to you and how that is reflected in your world. How do you look at others success? Is it power, money? What do you use to evaluate success?

I'd love to help you or your organization help achieve success. Let me know how I can be a part of that journey.


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