Success is the impact the people you touch and serve have on others. It is about cascading impact through uplifting and igniting belief and purposeful action in service to and with others to create better together.
That is how I see true success. How do you define success? What does success look like for you personally? Professionally? In life?
As I reflect on my definition of success, I realize definitions of success can be situational and as unique as each of us is as human beings. At a networking event, one person may want to meet 100 people. Another may want to leave the event with 50 business cards. Yet another might want to come away with 10 client prospects. My goal might be to connect with and have meaningful conversations with 5 people as the start of building genuine relationships and exploring possibilities. There is no inherent right or wrong, just different perspectives, in how we see success in this situation. This clarity on how we see success defines our approach and informs how we create our conditions to realize success.
Wait, what about ROI, the bottom line, productivity, hitting your numbers, and winning? Business is about results you may challenge. How can we be successful if we invest our time and money connecting, caring about employees, building and maintaining relationship and all this people first stuff?
I would respond, “How can you consistently create greater, sustainable success if you do not?”. How are you defining results and winning? What criteria are you placing on results? Who is it you expect to get these results? How are you, as their leader, enabling their success? What is missing from your perspective that might invite greater success?
Here are some perspectives on success to consider:
Thomas Watson Jr, Chairman and CEO of IBM on success in business:
To be successful, you have to have your heart in your business, and your business in your heart.
Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich on success:
Most great people have attained their greatest success one step beyond their greatest failure.
Mike Vacanti, author of Believership: The Superpower Beyond Leadership shares:
Meeting the chaotic challenges we are facing today requires big shifts in the way we organize, lead and manage people and teams. Believership will last beyond the accelerated attainment of goals and objectives, people will find meaning and happiness. It is not only what we accomplish but who we become along the journey. The only thing that gets in the way of extraordinary transformation is the belief that it can’t be done.
Watson speaks of the importance of heart. Hill on how great people have perseverance, tenacity, and determination. Vacanti speaks about belief, the journey and “who we become along the way”. Wonderful, insightful wisdom shared by all three. This notion of who we become along the way particularly resonates with me.
Success is personal, situational and a journey of becoming. Success is the outcome of the choices you make, the actions you take and the conditions you create to invite and unleash the human greatness in people, teams, workplaces, communities, families, and relationships of all kinds. Success is deliciously nuanced, especially as we look at human beings, human development, team development and how we create the conditions for us all to flourish individually, in teams, and in business.
An expansive view of success invites courage. Courage to dance with and navigate uncertainty. Courage to simultaneously look at the long-term mission, vision, and purpose, as we concurrently and skillfully focus on executing the prioritized work for today, aligned with that shared purpose.
Success does not just happen, you must create the conditions for it. Success, much like leadership, is intentional, contextual and active, resulting in growth. Inherent in success is creating movement forward, progress, achieving better. For many, success is often about the end results regardless of how those outcomes were created. You may hear a former boss’ voice echoing in your head, uttering these frequently used words, “Just get it done.” Perhaps, followed by “I don’t care what it takes.”
The score defines success. You either won or your lost. You got it done or you did not. You succeeded or you failed.
What if our view of success was not so binary? What if our assessment of success was more than the end result? What if our lens on success was more expansive? What if we also valued how this success was achieved, the learning that could be shared and applied to future efforts, thereby expanding human capacity and leadership pipelines through these investments in practical experiences?
The invitation I extend to each of us as human beings is to reflect on your definition of success with curiosity and an open mind. Success is sometimes a step, sometimes a sprint and often a journey of failure, learning, and micro-successes. Sometimes success is personal, as when you get an “A” on your math test or beat your personal best time in the half-marathon. Even then we have teachers, coaches and perhaps running partners who support us along the journey.
Most often, success involves more than just you and is a collection of interconnected contributions and successes that deliver results for your clients, your teammates and your community. Success is the realized convergence of your choices, practices, habits, values, and actions.
Now, more than ever, for our planet, our global humanity, our communities, and our families, true success lies in creating sustainable, progressive, cascading and amplified impact. True success is interdependent, interconnected and creates better not just for those we serve, but for those they serve.
What does the next ripple of impact look like for you?