Don't let anyone else define your success

“Success is when I add value to myself, but significance is when I add value to others.” John Maxwell
All of us are in business to be successful. There is even a magazine titled “Success”. We are all striving for success, but how many of us have actually defined what we mean by it? Are we seeking wealth, power and prestige or are we striving for peace of mind, security, and comfort?
To make matters worse, many of us allow others to define success for us. Social media is awash with supposedly successful people telling us what success should look like. If we have 1000 followers on twitter and someone else has 10,000, we think we aren’t successful. If someone makes $500,000 a year and we make $200,000, we’re losers. If my neighbor buys a new car and I can’t, I’m tempted to pull into my driveway at night with the lights off, so no one sees my inferior vehicle.
We so often equate success with money, that we ignore everything else. In the grand scheme of things, especially when you factor satisfaction into your definition of success, money starts to drop down on the list.
In an article from the Berkeley Well-Being Institute, the author proposes that your definition of success must be only partially influenced by your business. She submits that success should be defined by all aspects of your well-being. These include:
1.   Emotional success, or how good you’re feeling
2.   Social success, in the sense of feeling connected with others
3.   Spiritual success, in that you realize your beliefs and how they affect your life.
4.   Occupational success, meaning, are you feeling fulfilled by your work
5.   Financial success, meaning, are you able to afford the things you need (and note that the authors are talking about what you need, not what you want).
6.   Community success, or the well-being of your friends, family, and the larger community.
For us to have a complete personal definition of success, we need to ask ourselves some questions, such as:
·     What is my definition of business success?
·     What makes me happiest?
·     What is it that I value most?
·     What types of accomplishments feel the most worthwhile to me?
·     What is my definition of success in a romantic relationship?
·     What is my definition of success in friendships?
·     What is my definition of community success?
·     And then the big one – what is my definition of success in life?
When defining our own type of success, we need to differentiate between need and want.  We may want the big house and fancy car, but do we need them? And of course, the age-old question, will these things make me happy?
Again, I think it is critical for us to determine if we are allowing our personal definition of success to be defined by the expectations of others. If we keep chasing someone else’s dream, we’ll never achieve our own.
Arthur Ashe, who rose from segregation and racial roadblocks to become the first African American male to win the U.S. Open said, “Success is the Journey.” Your own personal journey to success will inevitably take you down paths you couldn’t have imagined. Your definition of success will change. Keep asking the question “what is success to me?”
John Wooden, well-known UCLA coach and teacher offered his own definition of success “Success is peace of mind that is the direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.”
As several authors have noted “Beyond success lies significance.” Or, as John Maxwell writes in the 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: “Success is when I add value to myself, but significance is when I add value to others.”