How Do You Define Success?

Success word

We use the word “success” a lot.

We say someone is a successful entrepreneur, someone has had a successful career in the law, or medicine, or in sport.

Some years ago I started to think seriously about this topic of success, and I began to understand how much our concepts of success can come from others – parents, teachers, colleagues, advertising – and how constricting and limiting those concepts can be.

We have surely all known people who have spent years working to achieve someone else’s idea of success. We may have done that ourselves. Some of us may, to a lesser or greater extent, be still doing it!

So we need to have, or develop, a very clear idea and picture of what success means to us. This can take time.

We all have some degree or other of conditioning by others and it is an easy thing to slip back into defining success in terms of “shoulds, coulds and wants”, worthy as those may be in themselves, rather than in terms of fulfilling our own heart’s desires.

The great pursuit of balance

In the ridiculously speeded-up world we live in these days, one of the biggest challenges in working out what success means to us is reconciling apparently conflicting aims, a process often typified as seeking to achieve a “work-life balance”.

Interestingly, in the Defining Success global study published this year by the consulting firm Accenture it was reported that around two thirds of the men and women professionals surveyed – a group made up equally of Gen Ys, Gen Xs and Boomers – said it was possible to “have it all”. That is, that they can have a successful career as well as a full life outside work.

However, 50% of those surveyed said they could not expect to have it all at the same time.

And for those business owners who might think that most or all people are primarily motivated by money and status, it might come as a surprise that in the same study work-life balance came first in terms of respondents’ definition of career success, ahead of money, recognition and autonomy.

We can have more than one definition of success

 Just as we all have different dimensions or spheres of activity in our lives, we can usefully develop more than one definition of what success means to us.

We can have a definition of success in our business or career, a definition of success in relationships, a definition of success in some activity or endeavour outside our business or formal career.

We may not see at first how those different definitions can fit together, but we can work on that in time. I find it best to focus on each area of interest, one at a time, then look later the balancing and harmonising. 

The Coachville 3 Step Process for Defining Success

One of the most helpful things I have found to get to my own clear definitions of success is the Coachville 3 Step Training process, Defining Success.

how do you define success?The key element of that process is getting ourselves to complete the statement “I know I am being successful by…”  The exact wording is crucial and is why the process can be quite challenging, partly – or maybe fundamentally – because to answer it effectively and with real honesty to ourselves, we have to be willing to tap into our real feelings about ourselves and about what success means to us.

If you are interested in knowing more about that process, and even having me take you through it, at no cost, why not take advantage of my offer of a free, 30 minute consultation? Details here

Des Walsh

Business coach and digital entrepreneur. With coach training from and its Graduate School of Coaching, and a founding member of the International Association of Coaching, Des has been coaching business owners and entrepreneurs for the past 20 years. Over the same period he has also been actively engaged in promoting the business opportunities of the digital economy. He is a certified Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) coach, and a certified specialist in social media strategy and affiliate marketing.

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