In my business book, Saving Organizations That Matter: Ascending From the Confluence of Chaos, I spend time talking about “the definition of success” and the strange but common occurrence that organizations often pursue a variety of objectives without a clear sense of what, precisely, they are striving to achieve. It’s true.
In the book, I note that I have been in a number of situations when a team or department, or even senior leadership group, is hotly pursing some goal and I take the time to meet with the members individually and ask them a simple question: “What is your definition of success?” You might be surprised by how often I hear very different takes on what precisely is the endgame. Some talk about profitability, others about preserving historical mission, and others on thwarting a competitor. I press further by asking: “How will you know when you have achieved your goal?” That’s when the fun starts as the disparities among the team begin to widen further. In that type of setting, I work to try to get everyone rowing in the same direction as that, unsurprising, helps them work together in a more effective manner.
I came across this quote today from the author, Jacques Philippe: “Where is there room for the poor and the handicapped in a world where people are measured by their efficiency and the profit they can produce?” Interior Freedom
Interior Freedom is an impactful book I read last year and I often come back to the lessons learned there. In doing so, I have realized that my own instruction regarding the importance of clarity around “definition of success” can apply to our very own lives as well. I rephrase my questions to:
What is the definition of success for your life?
How will you know when you have achieved the most important goal of your life?
Suggestion: write down answers to these questions. Store what you have written in a prominent place and refer back often. Then, periodically, as you are moving forward, conducting the affairs of your day-to-day, look at your definition of success and ask yourself whether you are actively pursing a life that moves you closer to what is envisioned. If so, then great and bravo to you. But if not, what then does that imply?