Saturday, April 24, 2010

How Do You Define Success?

I was recently asked this question - "What is your definition of success?"  I thought back to a few conversations I had with an entrepreneur a few years ago and his issues with the word "success."

This entrepreneur had built a nice business that was growing.  He was also struggling with cash flow and many of the pains of owning and running a business.  He regularly had people around him comment that he was successful.

"Ken," he would say to me, "these people must have no idea what success is.  I can't sleep at night.  I am out of cash.  I have no idea how I'm going to make my next payroll.  I had one of my best employees quit last week, and one of my best customers is on the brink of leaving.  If this is what success is, then I want nothing to do with it!"

It seems success is relative and has a lot to do with perception, regardless of how close it is to reality.  I think the definition is just a little deeper than we consider.

So, how did I answer the question?  I don't know how well I did, but here is a summary of what I said.

To me, success is about making a difference for good in the lives of others and in the organizations we support.  Helping people and organizations make positive changes is fulfilling work, and that is at the heart of success, in my opinion.  Perhaps the best measure of this comes from how much we would be missed if we were gone.  Wealth, fame, power, or stature do define success - making a difference does."

So, what's your definition of success?