What’s Success?


Exactly what is this elusive thing that keeps us daily striving for something more and better?  Personally and professionally, the answers to this question have huge implications.  So much of the emotional waste we wade through each day sprouts from a common root:

We didn’t agree on what success really was.

How does this happen?  Many books have been written with eloquent explanations, but I can offer one observation.  In my humble experience, I often struggle to define success much beyond the reaches of my direct influence.  What I am working on at this moment, is the most important thing (regardless of how it matches up with everyone else’s situation).

Even if I don’t have formal measures and standards in place, I work out the basics of what things look like when everything is running ok, then I focus on keeping everything ok.  I worry about what I can see and put my hands on—even though somewhere in the back of my mind, a little voice keeps speaking of a bigger picture.

The result of this unintentional near-sightedness ends up being selfishness.  Many of us bristle at the emergence of selfishness in others (although we may be doing exactly the same thing to them).  We use the hectic pace of life and business to excuse ourselves from taking time to walk even a few steps in the shoes of those from other areas.  We survive, moment-to-moment, in a state of mutual distrust and barely compatible goals.  Solving the big problems affecting us all is hard stuff when we begin with wariness, pride and a general lack of respect for those fighting other battles.

If we’re lucky, one of the most important things that comes from being part of a company  is the chance to have leaders (at any level) help set vision, guiding principles and measures to define success for the company as a whole.  If success is defined well, all three components complement and support one another.

  • Vision is a way for us to imagine what success looks like five, ten, or fifty years from now.
  • True North Measurements help us measure how much we have moved towards the vision.
  • Guiding Principles and Core Values give us character and timelessly define the way we do things.

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