Posted on: May 22nd, 2018 by
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What’s your definition of success?  How do you achieve it?  Your answer becomes the pathway to your future.  Random plans will get you somewhere, but not necessarily where you want to go.


Some may define success as holding on to their current job; many see success only with a promotion, a higher title and a 30% salary increase; others may define success as a continuum of steps toward their long term goal.  No answer is the universal “right one”, but make sure it’s the right one for you.  I have known executives who were a huge success in their business career, while having three failed marriages, children who have problems with the law, and then retiring leaving behind an organization in disarray.


Success should be viewed in terms of time and context:  Time is your friend if you have the education and qualifications with 20 years ahead of you.  Time is not your friend if you are the junior assistant to the department head and have 10 years to retirement.


The context is wrong if you’re an accountant and want to be the President of a sales-driven company.  The same is true if you’re an intern in the mining industry in Utah and define success as a fashion designer in New York.  The context is illusive if you have no continuum of successful steps to reach your goal.


As a consultant I once met with a corporate president who had a number of major problems he wanted to solve.  When asked how he would define success, he said, “I want to be number one!” Number one in what? Return-on-investment?  Market share?  Revenue?  Profit? You can’t be number one in everything. The more definitive your success criteria the better able you are to develop the strategy, time line and benchmarks to move toward your ultimate goal.


Here is a simple set of questions to begin your quest for defining success:

  • If everything were perfect, what would success look like?
  • What do you see as the impediments to reaching success?
  • Are these impediments solvable? If the answer is yes, what’s the alternative solutions? If no, what’s your contingency plan?
  • Who do you learn from along the way? Who and where are your mentors?
  • What kind of support will you need along the way? How do you get that support?
  • Do you have enough time to reach your goal? How many steps are needed?
  • Do you have the education, certification, training, or experience to make the next move?
  • What do you see as your probability of success? If less than 50%, what your alternative?
  • What are your benchmark steps and timeline to know if you’re on the right path?


The great thing about defining your own success is you have the freedom to set it yourself.  It’s yours to achieve.  But you must have the plan and determination to see it through.  No one else can define or manage it for you.


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