How To Define Your Success: Back To Basics

Definitions for success can be listed from here and to “infinity and beyond” because everyone has their own interpretation of success.  These interpretations are usually formulated by what one hears, sees on TV, reads on the internet, or by emulating  people who one admires.  Of all things and meanings that one attributes to success, everyone can ultimately agree that success is not an endpoint, it’s a process.  Where everyone splits off into every direction is how success is measured. Jack Welch stated it best when he said, “You get what you measure”. That’s a great quote and it’s also a guideline to keep you honest and focused on the goal. It’s not all about achieving the goal, it’s about what you become striving to achieve the goal.  Along the way, you measure milestones to keep yourself on track.

Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.” Robert Collier

Imagine traveling down a major highway, without a compass, odometer, GPS or map and there are no mile markers, no signs, and no names to the exits.  How can one tell if they are going in the chosen direction to get to the desired location?  You’re putting all of your faith on your initial starting point and in the faith of the builder of the highway to get you where you want to go. Without reference points or mile markers, one would always be wondering if they are going the right way and if they will ever arrive.  Now imagine how your day, no, your life would be if you did not have milestones or goals and never bothered to measure them?
So what is success?  According to Webster’s Dictionary : “favorable or desired outcome; alsothe attainment of wealth, favor, or eminence. ” The way I would interpret this text-book definition is “getting something you want” for an effort.  Now that’s pretty simple and convenient.   The problem is that we often don’t  know what we want and there are so many variables and hurdles that prevent us from achieving it.
Let’s take a step back. Knowing what we want is not always clearly defined. Goals help define what we want and become the starting point.   It should be pretty clear that in order to achieve success, goals must be somewhere in the picture.  Earl Nightingale said it best years ago when he stated: “Success is the progressive realization of a worthy goal or ideal.”  He also stated, “People with goals succeed because they know where they are going.”

Earl Nightingale’s definition of success is just one facet of the secret of success and helps support my position that success is a process that works hand in hand with goal setting.  While we are running with the idea, allow me the privilege of sharing an “Ah Ha” moment which captured my imagination from a portion from a Citicorp Ad from the early ’90s.  It fueled my passion to develop the expense tool.  The Ad stated:

“Real success is about prosperity on your own terms.
Financial success doesn’t come from having a lot of money.
It comes from not having to worry about money.”
Chew on that for a day.  I’d love to hear your comments especially from those in the peanut gallery.
I came across another blogger that pulls the same thread as the Citicorp ad and shares plenty of details   Check it out.
“The more money you save, the more freedom you have, and the greater risks you can take. As your financial independence increases, you chip away at the wall of worry. You’re able to make decisions based on happiness and not on dollars.”

The monetization of success became clearly defined for me as I digested this ad over the years and prompted me to post the YouTube clip embedded in:

What does success mean to you and how do you measure it?  Since you’ve arrived at this blog seeking entertainment and bits of concentrated knowledge,  I’ll get right to it. To make it more interesting, let’s rephrase the question, Hollywood style.  “What’s the secret of success”?  For me, I bought into Earl Nightingale’s definition years ago and have been setting goals ever since. Also, when you are in sales, goals are pretty much built into the profession. If you want to earn your keep you’ve got to hit your sales goals on regular and consistent basis.
Bottom Line: The secret of success is to have goals and a plan to pursue them.  Let’s put a qualifier on this and state “Realistic Goals”.   When you have realistic goals, you’ll have to stretch with some effort to reach them, and one can measure them fairly easily.

“Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” Winston Churchill

Most people are highly social creatures that function best under conditions of shared goals and values. Sports teams, places of employment and families are excellent examples.  With that said, no one can achieve and maintain success without the help and support of others.  People contribute to your success just as you contribute to theirs. You’ll see the divergence of success between “givers” and “takers” and I might cover that at a different time.

“Most people think of success in terms of getting.  Success, however, begins in terms of giving.”  Henry Ford

Someone else stated it in a more impactful manner, “success isn’t permanent and setbacks aren’t fatal”.   Setbacks allow one to re-evaluate the methods and goals and make adjustments. Allow yourself to make mistakes, be aware of them but try avoid making the same one a second time.

“Successful people do what unsuccessful people are not willing to do. Don’t wish it were easier; wish you were better.” Jim Rohn

In typical Bach Row fashion, I’ll give you the tool to reference.  It’s up to you to make the commitment. A year from now, you’ll be glad you did and find yourself in a much happier and productive place.  Your “future self” will thank you.
I came across IBD’s 10 Secrets of Success and saved the clipping and kept it on my desk for many years as reminder to make some of these skills become habits.  Before you leave this blog, I suggest that you print these rules and read them every Monday morning before you start into your emails.  Perhaps this will help you formulate your own secret to success on your terms.

Carry On.


Author: Francis

Started out in science and somehow ended up in sales & marketing. Grew into a results oriented sales professional with extensive experience selling and positioning scientific solutions in the pharma/biotech, life sciences and medical diagnostics markets. In 1998 I created an excel sheet to track spending and cash flow to learn personal finance on my own. They don't teach this in school and by the time one figures it out, most of let all these resources slip through our fingers. It's time to pay it forward to this next gen so that they can shave 15-20 years off for working for "the man" with insights, a library of tools, and motivation from me and plenty of other FI bloggers that I follow.

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