Have you created your own definition of Success? If you're like most people, probably not. We often unconsciously buy into the definition of success that society tells us, which is frequently associated with power, money and material items. But success is a very personal thing. What drives one person can vary drastically from another.
Four years ago, I posted this article sharing some successful individual's own definitions of success. The response has been really surprising to me. It is the most successful article I have ever written, and I have written hundreds. It also consistently ranks as one of the top 5 articles viewed, every month. Which tells me something important...we are interested in how people genuinely define success, not just what the media tells us it is.
As 2018 is coming to a close and most of us are reflecting on our personal and professional achievements, I wanted to do a version two and asked a different set of traditionally "successful" individuals to share their personal definitions of success. I hope their responses inspire you to create your own and start accessing your accomplishments on something that is personal to you, not what you're hearing from society or others.
"I define success as creating an impact on the world, on the community, on my team, and on my loved ones. Success to me is about creating greater good, all the while remaining a loving daughter, partner, friend, team leader, and team player. That's why I believe integration is so important for an entrepreneur -- integrating your life and your career so that they become one and the same, collaborating with friends and turning to loved ones for support so that they become part of your every day as you work. That is true success."
"For me, true success is about getting to the point of being truly okay with losing everything you have. As humans, we are all driven by a combination of intrinsic and extrinsic motivations. I try to make forward progress every day towards the aspirational goal of being 100% intrinsically motivated, combined with the principle of "contribute more than you take" at different scales (where I live, at Zappos, for Downtown Project, and for the world in general)."
- Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos
"The feeling of accomplishment, independence, and happiness most days!"
- Doug Dennerline, CEO Betterworks
"Success is being excited to go to work every day and being equally excited to come home every night."
- Christina Hall CHRO Linkedin
"Success is defined by what makes you feel successful whether that's making more money or having a good relationship with your partner or a promotion you get. You need to define success for yourself and expect it to change along the way."
"It would be easy to define success if what mattered are the things we can count or quantify like, how high we've climbed the corporate ladder or how much money we've made. But for me, it's the silent victories that stand above all that: the colleagues we've inspired, the lives we've touched, what we've given back to our world. The real measure of success is not what we have, but what we've shared."
- Amy Cappellanti-Wolf, SVP & CHRO at Symantec.
"Success is a process: finding and effectively serving a calling greater than yourself; dreaming, and then setting, and then going beyond your goals, and then repeating; and here's the really hard and important part-- let the process celebrate, not overcome or obscure, the joy of life that surrounds you. I'm still in process."
- Ethan Brown, Founder & CEO, Beyond Meat
"Success means building a business that has a net positive impact on the world. At Sustain, that means improving access to, products for, and conversations pertaining to sexual and reproductive health."
"In western cultures we tend to define success as a destination. A place to get to, a target to reach or a comparison to another as a benchmark to beat. But living does not happen at a distinction point. It happens all through the journey. That is why when success is achieved, as per the Western definition, we usually move the goal posts further and set another success target to motivate us to keep going as we continue living. If we defined our success for the journey not the destination, however, we would need to define it and redefine it on daily basis. It would no longer be a target but, rather, a way of living. I have only one Target, one definition of success, today. It will remain to be my target every single day until the day I leave this planet. And that is to become the best possible version of myself that I can become. I don't compare myself to others and I don't compare my success to the common measures of success in the modern world. Instead, at the end of every day I ask myself if I have done the absolute best that I could to impact our world positively during that one single day. I realize that others may have invested their day better or, surely, differently. But that constitutes the definition of their success not mine, hence, there is no point comparing. If life was a video game then the definition of my success is to become absolute best gamer I, and only I, have the potential to become. I just play my best game every single day until a new day presents itself. Every day my game was the best I could play is a day that counts as success."
- Mo Gawdat, former Chief Business Officer of Google's X and author of Solve For Happy