Each of us has a definition of success. We may not be able to articulate it or write it down, but we’re always trying to succeed at something. That something, whatever it is, drives our thoughts, feelings and actions.   

We’re constantly focused on what we want to accomplish, whether we realize it or not. Our concept of success has been developed and conditioned over the years by the media, family upbringing, peers and various life experiences. The net effect can be either positive or negative. So, take a moment to reflect on these questions:

  1. What are we trying to accomplish?
  2. How will we know if we’ve succeeded once we get wherever there is?
  3. Can we ever get there, or is it all just a process? 

The net result of our definition of success will have a direct correlation to our overall Personal Leadership Effectiveness. The reality is that most of us are motivated to achieve success. However, we need to be sure we define what that success is or someone else will do it for us. 

How are you defining success? 

Is it power? There are countless successful people with enormous power, and yet they suffer from failed relationships and ruined reputations. The common philosophy is that if you’re going to succeed professionally, then you have to forfeit success in other areas of life, which (in my view) is nonsense. 

Is it prosperity? Possessing things and having money aren’t wrong. However, when we become preoccupied with those things, we begin to miss our true purpose or reason for being here.

Is it position? Some believe that position defines success. There have been many notable people who achieved influential positions in business, government, faith-based institutions, politics and entertainment; whose lifestyles were later exposed for doing things that were not considered appropriate.

Is it prestige? Being known and recognized is a heady feeling. Many people with prestige can tell you that it can be very fleeting. How many actors, sports celebrities and politicians have we seen over the years gain instant prestige and just as quickly fall into obscurity? Prestige certainly is no guarantee of success. In fact, those who are known and recognized often receive an equal or even greater amount of attention when they fall.

Is it pleasure? The rule of life is to make business a pleasure, and pleasure our only business, said Aaron Burr. There are many people that make an idol out of pleasure. Building a life around self focused pleasure isn’t satisfying in the long run.

To be fair, these definitions of success don’t always result in personal devastation. In fact, they’re neither good nor bad in themselves. But their use or abuse absolutely determines the outcome of a person’s life. This post isn’t meant to discourage anyone from enjoying the rewards of their hard work. It’s meant as encouragement to leverage those rewards for the good of others and the individual.
The key questions here are:

  1. What is your concept of success?
  2. Have you deliberately developed one, or has yours evolved through the influence of others and the culture around you? 
  3. Is your concept the right concept of success? 

The importance of building success in all areas of life is key to elite leadership. It must be balanced, integrated success. It should be in harmony with who we are. If we succeed in work and yet fail in personal relationships, we haven’t succeeded.  If we accomplish great things, but live miserably in the process, then we haven’t succeeded. Only a life rooted in real and and lasting values is successful.

There’s an emotional, mental, physical, spiritual, and relational sides to our individual being.  Beyond that, we have responsibilities in various areas: work, family, community, etc.  Each of these areas has sub-responsibilities and they’re all interrelated. We can’t afford to succeed in finances, yet fail in relationships and call that success. We can’t achieve levels of excellence in our organizations, yet burn out physically and emotionally. We must be winning in all areas or our lives to be successful.

You’re probably thinking of the old cliche you can’t have it all

Truth be told, we were meant to and can have it all.  We just have to do it holistically! 

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