The Definition of Success (Hint: It Includes Failure)
We all tend to have at least a small case of keeping up with the Joneses, especially here in America. Thanks to social media, The Joneses today can even be across the country or world instead of just down the block - a neighbor has a new car in the driveway, a friend is posting incredible photos from a tropical vacation, and someone you don't even know but follow on social is showing off their luxury home. It's easy to look around at others and everything they have and think, How did I end up here? or When I pictured my life, this isn't where I thought I would be. We see others who started at the same point we did, yet they somehow are further along the journey. So we start to compare...but that's only setting ourselves up for defeat, and emotionally setting ourselves back. According to President Theodore Roosevelt, "Comparison is the thief of joy."
Everyone has a different journey, but comparing your success to someone else's isn't productive. We have friends that hold C-level positions within large companies, VP titles in start-ups, mid-level managers in publicly traded companies, and entrepreneurs that are still working multiple jobs to pay their bills. How do you determine who of these people is successful and who isn't?
It starts with defining what Success means to you. How do you define success? No seriously, think about it for a moment. Write it down. What is your definition of success?
What about financial success? When defining success as a monetary amount, what amount do you think is "successful"? Although we have asked many different people this question, you may be surprised to find that no one has given us the same monetary amount. If we can agree that financial success does not mean the same thing to all of us, how can we measure the steps we take, the goals we set, and the effort we put forth to be the same "success" across the board?
What we personally call success may sound like an absolute nightmare to you. Entrepreneurship is not for everyone. That however, was our goal - Business Owners. What we consider steps in the right direction may be the exact opposite for you. It all depends upon your own goals. And your goals depend on what you define as success.
Take a look back at the definition of success you wrote down. That's YOUR success. Is that what you're working toward? According to Brendon Burchard in his book High Performance Habits: How Extraordinary People Become That Way, "When someone becomes disconnected from the future and their contribution to it, they underperform." Without a goal, we are just floundering, wasting our time with busy work that isn't helping push us toward success.
Why do we continue to let other people define success for us?
We have been conditioned to define success as the BIG title, a six-figure salary, or the paid vacations, but what if we looked at it differently? What if instead, we evaluated what we loved doing and then took steps to get us to joy, happiness, and fulfillment - wouldn't that be a success? And while that may include a title, large salary and vacation home in the mountains (yes please!), how you get there and what success means to. you has to be a path you travel. Ray Lewis said, "effort is between you and you." All you need to focus on, all you need to ask yourself is, are you putting in the effort to get you to your success?
"Unhappiness is not knowing what we want and killing ourselves to get it" (Don Herold). Instead, think about your happiness. Are you working towards something you are passionate about? What about something you are truly interested in? Are you fulfilled at work? Are you continuing to grow both professionally and personally? Are you making the effort to move in the direction you want to go?
We've held a lot of jobs, and still do...but our definition of success is the ability to work towards, work on, and work through everything to build a company that we are passionate about. The ability to work with a variety of clients, continuing to learn about different industries, all while accommodating small business needs and helping other people to impact their communities is an added bonus.
No, not every day is "successful" and we have each made decisions that cost us in the long run, but we keep working, building, and strategizing (adjusting as necessary) to make strides towards our goals. "Failure is not the opposite of success; it's part of success" (Arianna Huffington). Those failures become our stepping stones to success, as long as you can see them that way. Failing teaches you lessons - about what to do, about what not to do, and most importantly, about yourself. Winston Churchill said, "Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm." Be enthusiastic about your failures almost as much as your successes. Those failures will make you successful...successful as defined by you of course!