What is Success to You?

I once got an email that asked the question “Do you think people who are extremely successful have less work/life balance?”

I replied, “Define successful.”

The response focused in on net worth, which is certainly one form of success. And I suppose if we’re honest, money-related success seems to be the one that preoccupies us the most.

But few of us when pushed will define ultimate success in terms of dollars and sense.

What’s your best definition of success?

I have several on file:
Following you passion
Maximizing your potential…a high ratio of talents used to talents received
Eighty percent of success is just showing up (woody Allen)
Success is power
Getting what you want out of life without violating the rights of others
Right decisions, repeated over time
Doing your best
The scorn of failure (Stephen Wise)
Getting up just one more time than you fell down
Going from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm (Abraham Lincoln)
Working faithfully for eight hours a day so you can become the boss and work twelve hours a day (Adapted from Robert Frost)
Controlling your own time (Rod Steiger)

Most of those have a least a nugget of truth and profundity.

This one goes in a little different direction:
“The measure of your real success ….is the way your kids describe you when they’re talking to a friend.” (Martin Buxbaum)

Which leads to:
“Those closest to me love and respect me the most.” (John Maxwell)

The power of Maxwell’s definition is that it’s possible for those on the outside to perceive that we are successful or good or smart, but those closest to us, those who know us best, if they love and respect us even more than those who don’t know us as well, that’s a measure of deep, substantial success.

And it’s not just about family.

The first impression some people generate is overwhelmingly positive. But then you get to know them and the more you get to know them the less impressive and positive you realize they are.

Others don’t make a big splash when you first meet them. But over time you see their wisdom, humility, grace, kindness, perseverance…depth of character. And the more you get to know them, the more you respect, possibly admire, maybe even love them.

If you can say “Those who know me best love and respect me most” you are successful in the way that matters most.

That’s the kind of success I want.

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