Frequent readers know that about a year ago I left my long-time Microsoft career to create my own coaching and consulting business. From that point on, “How is your business doing?” or some variation of that question has been asked as part of just about every conversation I’ve had. Or so it seems.
Don’t get me wrong, I am happy people ask; happy that they care. I need these people because my business depends on their referrals and positive word-of-mouth. I want people to ask me because it means they are interested.
I bring this up today because having this question asked of me over and over has made me realize something about how I’ve defined success.
Each time I’ve been asked, I’d begin a little game of “What do they think my success should look like?” inside my head as I answered the question. Is it the number of clients I have? Is it how much money I make? Is it the diversity of what I’m doing? Is it how much volunteer work I’m able to do? Or maybe it’s how much free-time I have… or if I’m able to pick my kid up from school… or if I speak to groups of 500 people… or….
I’d walk away from the conversation feeling successful or not based on what I perceived their perception of success to be – and how I measured against that. And I’d feel successful – or not – based on that until asked again.
I suspect I’m not alone.
As Marcus Buckingham points out in Find Your Strongest Life, success means feeling effective and capable. And effective and capable can come at us from all sorts of directions. Ultimately, individuals must define it for themselves. It’s up to you to figure it out. Alone. Without input from others.
Define your own success. Then, when someone asks how business is going you can honestly answer based on your own requirements and how effective and capable you personally feel.
That’s what I’ll be doing from now on.
If you’re challenged by what success means to you, check out these thoughts in a short video from Danielle LaPorte: What’s Underneath Your Definition of Success?