How do you define success?

How do you define success?

As my friend Michelle drove me to the airport in Washington, D.C. this morning (headed for home Down Under… have made it to LAX so far!), she asked me if I thought my trip was successful.  I told her yes.

I’ve met hundreds of wonderful people at speaking events over the last couple weeks and, hopefully, got to make at least some impact on their lives.  I did a few great TV interviews (one on Washington Business Report is below for your viewing pleasure!) which was pretty exciting, had a chance encounter with the gorgeous Katie Couric (even more exciting!), and, in between some sprint-shopping, I had some really fun times with dear friends – a definite highlight.

Of course I’d love to have seen Stop Playing Safe hit the New York Times Bestseller list.  But that’s not how I’m choosing to measure the success of this trip.  Which brings me to the topic at hand: HOW YOU DEFINE SUCCESS.

It’s an important subject because how you define success determines not only how successful you feel throughout your life, but how successful you become in terms of the impact you make on those around you, the quality of your relationships, and the value of the contribution you get to make along the way.

Too often we think to ourselves: “If only I had more x (money, market share, influence, status, square footage), THEN I’d be successful.”

In doing so, we set ourselves up to forever strive toward some arbitrary standard of success, and yet never arrive at it.  Or not for a long time.  Time and time again I’ve seen people achieve their goal – whether to make the million bucks or secure the corner office – and find it’s still not enough.  We reset the bar higher, and the striving goes on.

But consider this: What if you stopped defining your success based on WHAT you HAVE, and instead on WHO you are BEING as you work toward your goals and aspirations?  What if you stopped making success depend on something you needed to attain, and instead on the person you are being – purposeful, courageous, kind, generous, encouraging, resilient – as you work to attain it?

Let’s face it: Sometimes our best efforts fall short in producing the results we want.  Sometimes things happen beyond our control that cause us to ‘fail.’  Sometimes we mess up.  Sometimes others mess things up for us.  It’s during those times most of all that we need to remember that the ultimate measure of any man or woman is not whether they ever got to HAVE or accomplish everything they wanted in life, but rather WHO they were when their plans unraveled, their hard work and sacrifice went unrewarded, and prayers went unanswered (or at least not answered as they had hoped for).

The first chapter of Stop Playing Safe focuses on helping readers clarify how they want to measure their life.   Deciding what you want your life to stand for not only helps you find the courage to step out of your comfort zone, forgoing safety to put your vulnerability on the line to do more, be more and give more. But it enables us to feel good about yourself even when things don’t go your way. Which, as you may well know, can be more often than you’d like.

 And so, as you read this now, I invite you to rethink about how want to measure your life – expanding your definition of success to more than just what you HAVE or achieve but to WHO you are as you go about your work today so that when you lay your head down to sleep tonight you can measure your day as a success.