Sunday, October 14, 2007

Everyone wants to be successful. How do you define success?

Everyone wants to be successful. But how would you define success? Judette Coward Puglisi

Bear with me as I recount my week. I have a point or two to make about success. Last Monday, an editor of a global communications magazine went on my blog saw a posting I had written about work life balance and asked me to submit an expanded piece on the same topic to the publication. On Tuesday, I opened my email and shining like a golden egg among 65 banal other emails in my Inbox was a request to speak at a leadership conference in the US. But it was on Wednesday that received a question, the most surprising of them all from a bright, young journalist, whose Facebook chronicles I have been following with some amusement and wonder.

Rhea Simone Auguste posted a question on my wall that had me thinking about the two opportunities that came my way on Monday and Tuesday as much as it had me thinking about success, failure, opportunity and sacrifice.

“What” questioned Rhea, “was the secret to my success?” I confess. Questions seldom stump me trained as I am from my days as a journalism student on the firing line doing mock interviews, but this one did. And to be honest, I never replied to Rhea until four days later, marinating her question in my just so I could deliver a helpful nugget of information for which I felt she was searching. In her post, Rhea told me that she had opened a publishing company but that she never got the results she was expecting. She was also toying with the idea of doing an MBA but wasn’t 100 percent sure of that decision. So I knew my answer couldn’t be coy: “ Rhea I am not so successful, there are ‘soooo’ many people more successful than I am, have you checked them,” or cliched: “ Well Rhea, it’s all about the hard work, you know it’s the point where perspiration meets inspiration.”

Rhea’s question forced me to look back (at some of my mistakes) as much as it caused me to think about what I wanted from life. And my thoughts were stewed in some harsh realisations, like this Sunday will be the third Sunday in a row that I’m working; that I’ve persuaded my husband that we should try for baby next year and that I spent hundreds of thousands of dollars three years ago on a business venture that never really got off the ground. Success sometimes demands its own harsh price.

That being said, yes, I am successful. However, my appreciation of that fact is not because I’ve arrived at a particular ambition: to grow the best PR firm in the country, (and the fact that I can say that even blows my mind) but that the journey to get there thrills me. The fact that my personal and professional goals mostly parallel each other, that I enter my office every day and work with people who I truly enjoy being with and that my journey to evolving is strewn with a terrific spouse, good health, loved ones and great professional opportunities makes the Toyota that I drive seem like an Audi

To answer your question Rhea, like others I dream, sometimes impossible dreams. Unlike most, I spend some time thinking about how to constructively put the right resources ( both human and otherwise) together to make the impossible, possible. And then I leap. And perhaps this is my distinction I am better than most people in bouncing back after failure. If I fall (and believe me I’ve had some knocks) I pick myself up, look around and say: “Okay, next!” I prepare myself to go again. If there is any secret, it is just that.

Thoughts about success

Your idea of success may be quite different from that of another small business owner's. Your neighbor's personal and professional goals may not parallel your own.

How you define success today may be different from how you define it tomorrow. In the real world, life changes, businesses evolve, and the shooting "success star" you may be reaching for alters its course.

As a single person with no family obligations, your definition of success may be quite self-centered. You may be financially driven. The personal challenge of running a business may be your ultimate reward.

A married small business owner with a family may have the intention to make a substantial living, but his or her personal definition of success may revolve around the family. Finding a happy balance between all aspects of life is often the driving force.

Before you outline what would make your business a success, take a moment to think about your own definition of success — both personal and professional. Remember, you are on a journey. Your success may be found in that journey. Success is not simply an end point; once you reach one goal or benchmark, there will be others to pursue.