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The Measurement of Success, Part 1

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“Success is not permanent. The same is also true of failure.” – Les Brown

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In this magazine, we often discuss the goal of success — it’s literally in our title. For the next couple of issues, however, I’d like to take a look at the concept of success itself.

In a recent podcast, we returned to some past guests to ask them what they, personally, considered success to be. As you might imagine, we got a wide range of answers, but there were certain themes that emerged.

Success as a Goal vs. Success as a Mindset

The truth, of course, is that there is no ultimate state of success; it’s not something we can achieve, put in a box and then walk away, confident we’ll never have to work for it again. Gaining and holding onto success is an ongoing process. It comes and goes, and it’s our pursuit of it that makes the difference.

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It’s easy to look at success from the standpoint of goals. It’s certainly important to have goals to measure how we’re doing, what’s working and what we could be doing better. In business, if you have a goal of selling 10 percent more in a month and achieve it, you’ve succeeded. If you believe you’ll have “made it” when your bank account hits a balance of $1 million, you’ve succeeded when that number shows up on your statement.

To consider ourselves truly successful, however, we have to go deeper than that. If our only measure of success are external things — money, objects, sales — we’re constantly at the mercy of outside forces for our own sense of self-worth. Next month’s sales may tank because of economic forces beyond our control. An illness or unforeseen accident might level our bank account. Are we failures at that point? To truly measure our success, there are deeper mindsets to explore.

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Helping Others

Some of the best, longest-lasting success we’ll ever know is by taking part in the success of others. This can be as a leader, a co-worker, a parent, a friend or a family member, but investing in other people and then seeing what they are able to accomplish can give us a sense of making the world a bigger, better place.

Also, this energy often comes back around to us. As we helped others, there will be times when we need their help. A leader who has supported
his or her team will get more out of them when it counts because they are a better trained and highly advanced unit. True friends will remember what we did for them when they needed it, and will be looking for an opportunity to return the favor. Parents who showed love, affection and support to their children will have this love and support returned to them when the time comes. This is a true measure of success.

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Next month, we’ll discuss some of the things under our control when chasing success, and ways we can truly gauge our progress.

Susan Givens

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