How Do You Define Success?

On his blog today, Scott Kelby made a post about our recent visit on The Chat. If you didn’t see that particular episode… you really should! It’s right there on his blog… or right here on mine.

One of My Favorite Questions

One of my favorite questions is the one about “how do you define Success?”. It’s interesting no matter how little or how much “success” a person has had… and it’s a SUPER important question to ask of yourself! The answer to this question is loaded with information. If you ask it of yourself, you learn what’s really important to you, what you will and won’t tolerate, what sorts of tired old worries or concerns you can finally let go of… and what thrills you so much you leap out of bed in the morning, stoked to do more of it! It helps define what to spend time, energy and resources on now that’ll take you down the road of your own choosing. Choice is key!

If you’re a curious sort like me; passionate and committed to creating a life-worth-living, you genuinely want to know how people you admire approach this answer. I just never get tired to hearing it! It’s always completely unique to that person and likewise, tells me so much about them. Plus, it always gives me so much to reflect upon, as I continue to consider what I want to stand for and be about in my life.

I asked Scott Kelby this question… and divided it down into two areas: Business and Personal.

Here’s how he answered the one about Business:

What Successful People Consistently DON’T Claim

Here’s what I find fascinating: every truly successful person I’ve ever talked to NEVER says “Money” is the primary definition of their success. It’s an important part, any would agree. But deep and soul-satisfying “Success” is so much more encompassing. Money by itself is a commodity, like a shirt or a pair of shoes.  Necessary, yes. And by itself, even cool for awhile… but then what? No one I’ve met in my life who has made or received huge load of money (and I’ve known a few actual gazillionaires) has said that “money” was the defining factor their success or happiness. Not once.

What it DID do for them was to allow them to continue doing the work that is most important to them… and that, most all agreed, was one of the real values.

Definitions Evolve Over Time

My own definition of Success continues to change and evolve over time. Certainly financial success is part of the equation; but I’ve had money and I’ve been completely broke. Neither one altered who I truly am. So, written into my own Terms of Success are things like; how and what I want to feel, the contribution I want to make, satisfaction I want to experience, the love and laughter I want to feel, the people that I want around me, the relationships I have and want to have, yes the wealth I want to build, the talents I want to use to express all of the above… and about a million other enriching, defining visions I have about what I consider to be my Most Successful Life.

So, how about you? At the end of the day, what 5 things will have happened that tell you in no uncertain terms that YOU’VE been a success?
You know how I love that question. 😀



4 thoughts on “How Do You Define Success?

  1. Karen, As much as this topic has been discussed, even to the point that we think it’s settled, the real value comes from diving for the pearly answer. In your full interview with him, Scott got right down to the personal emotional irritant that drives his seemingly tireless business activity. Broad, pat answers about success don’t satisfy like the personal emotional need does; even “do what you love” doesn’t mean anything until one does that deep dive to know just what it is for each of us. Sometimes it turns out to be something we have known about ourselves all along, but had forgotten -or been trained away from- over the years. In personal growth workshops, it hasn’t been unusual for a participant to rediscover a passion from childhood, and to breathe into it, finding it breathed fresh air back into them.. . sometimes with “miraculously” matching skills and insight that were always right there at hand.
    In my own life, I found photography as a passion, in high school, and from that day forward I ate, slept, dreamt, and breathed image making with unfailing focus. I knew I loved it, I knew it challenged me, I knew it was a powerful way to affect and influence.. . to inspire. I also knew it just plain felt good, at two stages: first when the image came together during the photography session, and second when the final print, projection, or web viewing brought feedback that let me know the image reached in and evoked an emotional response.. After 8 years of newspaper photography, I came to value another power of photography: the powerful question.. . the kind of question that called for reading (looking, asking) deeper.. . so success for me can be hearing “I’ll never look at ____________ the same way again”.

    That was “then”.

    I mentioned personal growth workshops; I took another one about three years ago, for a fresh dive, about putting one’s personal vision into action. Included in the workshop was an exploration about “personal purpose”. . “what, if anything, am I here to do with my life? I now know more about my passions, but, if I have a so called life purpose, what is it?”
    For me, when I tried on a series of possible words to fill in the blank, the one that brought instant deep tears was “to heal”.
    So, that changed a lot.
    I had not ever considered that one, at least not in that term. I also realized that it probably meant “to heal myself and others”, so I have begun trying on and researching new ways to be about healing. Long time friends, when I shared that with them, told me they had always experienced me that way. Who knew?

    Success, re: healing, means something difficult to define or measure, in some ways, and easy to measure in others. For now, I realize four working pathways for wholeness, particularly regarding other people: my own photography (of course), as well as facilitating workshops on Light and on Purpose for photographers, being a prayer chaplain at Unity church, and training to facilitate “write to heal” workshops. Success may well be a mix of baseline health checkups before some of these workshops followed up by checkups 6 months to a year later, anecdotal/testimonial feedback from participants, and maybe even simply intuitive confirmation that something profound has happened.

    I do know that doing any of the above almost always fits the definition of “what you love”, for me, and as yet, I still eat well and have a home, and enjoy my relationships.
    That certainly Feels like success.

    1. What a great post, Wayne! I loved hearing your perspective… it’s rich.
      And like you point out, success is so many things, all rolled into a fabulous big bundle called “life”.
      BTW… I’d say you’re “multi-passionate”. Marie Forleo uses that term… I just love it.

      1. Thank You, Karen.. I like that term, “multi-passionate”,too.. and I didn’t even mention the radio program work, or the stage and video acting. 😉
        Oh, and thanks for the reminder of Marie Forleo; she has been mentioned to me before, so now I’ll pay Attention!

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