I get asked a lot by executives how to keep score, and how to define success. They are often in their forties or fifties and are becoming disillusioned that making another $20,000.00 per year doesn’t have the allure for them that it once did. I sometimes chuckle when this topic comes up because it literally is the story of my life too. Invariably I get asked to give my opinion about what it takes to get back to the point where a person begins to enjoy success again. I thought it might be fun to share my view on that with you today.
Decide For Yourself – Don’t let someone else dictate to you what your life or your career needs to look like. I’ve had years where I made tons of money and felt like a failure and years when I made next to nothing and felt like I had a phenomenal year of growth, change and success. Decide for yourself how you’re going to define success, and tell the so-called experts that you’re marching to a different drum. I actually had an executive tell me once to get comfortable with mediocrity at a company I had decided to leave, just because I was making a lot of money and would get comfortable with the bureaucracy. Not for me, thanks! You can decide what makes you tick, and what will fulfill you. Then once you’ve figured that out, get yourself moving in the direction of making it happen, and don’t stop until you taste the success you covet.
Don’t Believe Your Press Clippings – The moment the lights are up, and you’re giving your acceptance speech for having “landed” and having conquered the world, you will have begun your inevitable decline. To be blunt, you cannot allow yourself to believe that you’ve “arrived” without taking your eye off of the ball, at least a little. Stay humble and avoid “hubris” from knocking you off your feet. We all need to engage in the day-to-day battle to be at our best, and as long as you’re still ascending and still aspiring to get more altitude, you’re going to keep moving forward. Relax, even just a little, and you’ll likely get knocked off of your perch. Remember, that John Wooden had it right when he advised us to remember that winning is a journey and a process, not a destination. It’s the act of struggling to improve that brings out the best in human beings.
Put Stock In Earning Respect – When the people you care most about give you their unqualified respect, you’ll have earned something worthwhile. When complete strangers bow down to you for your accomplishments, it will feel wonderful for an instant, but it is a fleeting instant, and the moment passes as quickly as it came. Don’t get addicted to the recognition of the masses or of complete strangers, because it will not fulfill you for more than a second, and when the second passes, you’re going to crave more. Better to earn the slow, steady, grudging acknowledgment and respect of the people who know you best, because they know the whole story, with warts and all. If you can gain the respect of the people who see you every day, then you have won it the right way, and it’s a lasting kind of foundational respect, more like concrete.
Play To Win – Mediocrity is the true enemy of outrageous success. You don’t want to play not to lose. You want to play to win. Keep yourself oriented toward an outward growth mindset and value the ability to keep improving and learning as you tumble through life. Embrace the ups and downs, and let the power of a sad day and another disappointment to drive you to keep learning and focusing on building toward the day when you earn the trophy and can celebrate with a bit of champagne poured over your flowing locks.
Find Something Challenging – Don’t settle for mediocrity. Don’t settle for easy. Don’t settle for the middle of the road. Get off the road and onto the backcountry trails of life! Trust me, the view from there is extraordinary. If you can find something meaningful and challenging to work on that will engage you and get you well outside of your normal comfort zone, you’re going to be unsure of whether you can be successful. When we learn to become successful when we’re REALLY challenged, that’s when we do our best work and when the most valuable learning happens. It’s also the most rewarding accomplishments when we had to stretch and struggle to find a way to win. Don’t take the easy path, keep challenging yourself to shoot higher, get further away from your normal and establish a new, higher normal.
So, how did we do with our list of keys to the scoreboard of life success? What do you think of our definition of a path to meaningful success? Did we persuade you to ditch the middle of the road and get off-road for a bumpier, but sweeter ride? Michael is a business advisor and Certified Professional Business Coach who helps Executives, their Leadership Teams, and their Emerging Leaders to find ways to discover ambitious results along their journey. If you’d like to learn more from Michael about leadership and success, you might enjoy visiting Michael’s YouTube channel, ‘Michael Beach Coaching & Consulting‘, where Michael shares free videos on a variety of business and leadership topics. Michael Beach Coaching & Consulting, “Delivering Ambitious Results!”