Richard Branson is the entrepreneur's entrepreneur. (So much so that he feels being an entrepreneur once helped save his life.) He started a magazine when he was 16. Started a mail order record business when he was 20. Launched a chain of record stores when he was 22.
Then Branson went on to found Virgin Records, Virgin Airlines, Virgin Express, Virgin Mobile, Virgin Money, Virgin Hotels, Virgin Fuel, Virgin Cruises, Virgin Galactic ...
(And don't forget the time Sir Richard gave me half his sandwich.)
While he's not as wealthy as Bezos or Gates or Buffett -- the only time a $5 billion fortune pales in comparison -- the scope of his entrepreneurial interests is incredible.
So how does Richard Branson define success? Not the way you might think.
It's a common misconception that money is every entrepreneur's metric for success. It's not, and nor should it be.
Too many people measure how successful they are by how much money they make or the people that they associate with. In my opinion, true success should be measured by how happy you are.
Which raises the key question: How happy are you?
If you aren't particularly happy -- or as happy as you would like to be -- part of the problem might be that you embrace conflicting definitions for professional success and personal success.
If you're making loads of money but are unhappy, you haven't embraced the fact that incredible business success often carries a heavy personal price. Other things are clearly more important to you than making money. Your definitions for professional success and personal success don't align.
But if you're making great money and you're also happy -- like Branson -- then your professional goals and personal goals clearly align.
Don't assume that making great money automatically results in happiness. (While it might sound odd to us non-millionaires, I know a number of desperately unhappy millionaires.)
That's why some of the happiest people I know make relatively humble livings. Their definitions of professional and personal success involve helping others -- through social work, teaching, the military, or the dozens of other pursuits where serving others is paramount. They won't get rich, but they don't care. They're doing what they love to do and are more than willing to make that tradeoff.
Their definition of professional success and personal success are aligned.
And they're happy.
What do you value most -- emotionally, spiritually, and materially? What do you want to achieve professionally?
You can try to compartmentalize all you want, but business success, healthy relationships with family and friends, working toward achieving personal goals ... No aspect of your life can ever be separated from the others. Each is a permanent part of a whole, so putting more focus on one area automatically reduces the focus on another area.
Find a way to balance your definitions for professional success and personal success. If you don't, you won't be happy.
And you won't feel successful.
As Branson also says,
Happiness isn't just how I measure my success; it's also the key to it. Most people would assume my business success, and the wealth that comes with it, have brought me happiness.
But I know I am successful, wealthy and connected because I am happy. I wholeheartedly believe that happiness should be everyone's goal.
You only get one life.
Make sure you live it in the way that makes you as happy and fulfilled -- and therefore successful -- as you possibly can.