Is Your Definition of Success Holding You Back?
Thirty years ago, I started my business. Over the years, many people have described it as a success. Yet for a long time, I rarely allowed myself to say the same.
I had a habit of comparing my company to other companies — especially those that had started around the same time as mine. Some of those companies became publicly traded. Others sold widgets that graced store shelves or were featured on the front page of Amazon. My company claimed neither accomplishment.
I also measured my success as a CEO against other CEOs. I always found plenty of reasons why others were more successful than I.
One day, my problem struck me out of the blue. It wasn’t my company. And it wasn’t me. My problem was my definition of success.
The way I was defining success — by everyone else’s measures — had prevented me from taking full pride in my company’s accomplishments. In reality, my company accomplished a lot over the years. Especially when I measured them by my own values.
That day, I made a firm commitment to myself: I would stop my negative comparisons. I would shift my focus away from what other companies and CEOs were doing.
And you know what? My business began growing even more. Growing in new and different ways. Once I recognized and appreciated everything we built and did, the company ran with more momentum and energy.
So, now, I keep my focus where it needs to be — on constantly moving my business forward. Allowing it to become the best version of itself.
Imagine the possibilities for yourself if you tweaked your definition of success! If you’re having trouble wondering where to start, then read on for three Power Challenges to get the ball rolling.
Power Challenge 1: Stop Your Comparison Habit
Many of us define ourselves by looking at others. We see their bigger houses, smaller waistlines or fancier job titles … and conclude they’re somehow better than we are.
These negative comparisons are damaging to us. They rob us of celebrating our own victories. We feel down about ourselves and wonder if it’s even worth trying.
“Comparison is the thief of joy.” – Theodore Roosevelt
If you’re going to compare yourself to others, use it for your improvement. Not to tear yourself down!
For example, let’s say you observe someone whose leadership behaviors seem more effective than yours. Great! Emulate them. Follow their example. Not because you think you’re deficient, but because you see there may be a better way. This is how we learn. This is how we grow!
To stop the habit of making negative comparisons, grab a pen and paper, and try this exercise:
- Think of people you deem “better” than you. Who comes to mind? Make your list, noting why you think they’re better.
- As you do this, note what feelings arise. Do you feel discouraged, down or “less than” in any way? If so, you are making negative comparisons.
- Now make a commitment to yourself to STOP this negative comparison habit.
- Look at your list again. How can you use it for growth instead? Is there anything about these people you could authentically incorporate into your way of doing things? Remind yourself you’re trying to become the best version of yourself. Not “catching up” to anyone else.
Power Challenge 2: Define Success with Your Values
How do YOU define success? Too often, people define it by what they want to DO or HAVE. And that’s fine, as a start. But I truly believe the best definition of success must also include who you want to BE. That’s where your values enter the picture.
Your values include your beliefs and ideas about what’s most important to you in life. For example, service and spirituality are two of my own core values. But those don’t have to be your values. Read through other examples below. Do any ring true for you? (By the way, this is just a starter list … there are many, many more values you might hold.)
“Success” is always striving to be the best version of yourself you can be.
I believe your success must be defined in part by your personal values. No one can tell you what your top values are (or should be). That’s up to you to decide as you navigate life’s twists and turns.
Related: Gratitude, Your Way
Take a moment to think about your top three or four values. How do you express them in your everyday life? Are they just ideas, or do you honor them through your words and actions?
Power Challenge 3: Dare to Define What Really Matters to You
Are you unsure of what’s most important to you in life? If you constantly look to other people for validation, you may have lost touch with yourself.
Look ahead to figure out what matters most NOW.
Fortunately, it’s never too late to tune into yourself and your own values. Here’s an exercise that can help. (Be brave and dive in! You’ll see what I mean as you read on.)
Imagine — way, way into the future — a lot of people are attending your funeral. Through the masses of darkly clad mourners … someone gets up to deliver your eulogy. As you listen:
What do they say about you and your life?
Take the time to actually write that eulogy — on paper, on the computer, or wherever is best for you. Take your time. Don’t rush through this. What is it you really want people to remember about you? My guess is that it won’t include a big house, small waistline or fancy job title. But who knows?
Your eulogy … Your values … Your measures of success.
Success — on Your Terms
The most important first step in achieving success is defining it for yourself. As I’ve shared, there’s no universal definition. You get to decide what success is for you.
You can start by identifying your values and incorporating them more fully into your life. Increase your self-awareness. Be courageous! The work might take you out of your comfort zone, but that’s okay. The payoff is worth it as you envision — and create — the best version of yourself.
Looking for a motivational speaker for your next event? Carla energizes and inspires attendees to be the best version of themselves that they can be. Contact her today.