Are you successful? Now, I know you might be thinking, Are you kidding? I’m a well-respected leader at the top of my game. Hey, I have it all!
Well… if I asked your spouse if you were successful, what would the answer be?
If you have children, what would they say?
How about your colleagues? Your friends? Your body? Your conscience?
Ouch! It always gets little unnerving to think about success in those terms. But, I believe you must.
How Should Christian Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders Define Success?
When I speak at conventions or present leadership seminars on this topic, I ask for definitions of success and get the usual answers: “Money,” “position,” “influence,” “climbing the ladder,” “the one who has the most toys wins.” As I interact a little bit more I find that I can group those definitions into five basic areas—power, prosperity, position, prestige, and pleasure.
Now, these are great aspirations you can enjoy and use for good, but I think you know there’s more to success than these things. I know I do.
Something drives our thoughts, feelings, and actions. For we focus on that which we want to accomplish.
In fact, one of my fundamental assumptions is that everyone moves toward his or her own concept of success.
The Big Question: Is Your View of Success the Right One?
Your concept of success has been developed and conditioned over the years by the media, your family upbringing, your peers and associates, and your various experiences. The net effect may be positive or negative.
In my research of hundreds of top leaders around the world I have consistently asked this question: “At the end of your life, how will you know you have succeeded?”
I have NEVER heard any of those interviewed say, “by my power, prosperity, position, prestige, pleasure” or any related areas, although they all enjoyed these things in great measure.
In fact, I have heard statements like, “No one ever said on their deathbed that they wished they had worked more,” or “You have never seen a hearse towing a U-Haul.”
These men and women said things like:
“How did my kids turn out?”
“Did I live a personally rich and fulfilling life?”
“Did I positively change lives?”
“Had I built meaningful and deep relationships?”
“Did I really love my spouse?”
“Did I make a difference?”
What Impact Will Your Life Make?
Many people today are more like the man Harold Kushner talks about in his book, When Everything You’ve Ever Wanted Isn’t Enough. One day an executive in a depressed stupor visited Kushner, a Jewish rabbi.
At Kushner’s gentle questioning, the man unburdened himself and told him about a funeral he’d been to just that week. It wasn’t the funeral that had bothered him so much but that in the brief period since this man’s death, the deceased’s name had been taken off the door, and his office quickly cleaned out—“as though he was never there.”
The man went on to describe a vision that had come to him during the funeral “of a small serene forest and inside that forest was a placid pond and it was as though a small pebble had been dropped in that placid pond. It quickly fell to the bottom. There were a few ripples but they were quickly gone. And it was as though that pebble was never there.”
What frightened him was the feeling that his life was like that, and that although he’d traveled extensively, made a lot of money, met a lot of people, and experienced a lot of things, his life seemed insignificant and meaningless “as though I’d never lived.”
What about you? What is your concept of success? Have you deliberately developed it or has it simply evolved through the influence of the culture around you? And, is it the right concept of success?
If you are now not so sure, I want to suggest a new way of looking at success. Move away from thinking of success as just power, prosperity, position, prestige and pleasure and begin building a definition of success around real values.
What Does Success Mean to Your Business and Personal Life?
Ask and answer these questions:
- What are the things that really count the most in your life?
- How do you want people to remember you when you die?
- What will really count?
- What kind of impact do you want to have?
- What are the areas that are important to you?
- How can you integrate all the areas of your life into one great productive whole?
Now, review your answers to these questions and then take time to write out your definition of success and hey, share it with me. Let’s start a dialogue.
Article appeared originally at Faith Driven Business. Used with permission.
Dr. Ron Jenson is the Faith Driven Business Leadership Expert for the Entrepreneur Network Curriculum. Dr. Jenson is also the Co-founder and Chairman of Future Achievement International®, an organization dedicated since 1996 to research, develop and bring to market several character-based solutions (rooted in God’s word). He is one of the most sought after speakers/authors in the world today on the subjects of authentic success and authentic leadership. Read his bio here. Follow him on Google+ and Twitter.