Defining Success.

Defining success

A friend of mine showed a video from  Dorie Clark , a successful strategic marketing specialist, and one of the things she said caught my ear.

What is your definition of success?

You would think that would be the easiest question to answer, but it really isn’t easy. So I asked myself while I was at work, what is my definition of success?

My first answer was: Have my books on the shelves of every bookstore in the known universe!! Hoot!! Yeah, baby!!!

But my book will be in the bookstores in February. (Did I tell you all that? I don’t remember. Big announcement!! My wonderful publisher Little Roni publishers will have my book ready to rock and roll and on the bookshelves in February of 2016!!) So is that really success for me? It doesn’t feel like it. In fact, I’ve learned that marketing the book with a smaller publisher takes a lot of work and keeps me super humble. So is that success to me?

No. It’s not. So I asked myself questions on success and wrote them on a small yellow sticky note. Deciphering my handwriting is a chore, that’s for sure.

Questions to ask yourself regarding success:

  • Each person’s definition of success is different. What works for me might not work for you and vise versa, so it’s ok if you try someone’s formula and it falls like a deck of cards. You’re not on the right track. You can use their ideas, but make them your own. Do I want to be like Dorie and speak at places all over the world? At 51 years of age, my body says HAHAHAHAHAAH!! Good luck!!
  • Can my idea of success morph into something else? Yes, it can. Once you’ve reached one goal, you’ll make another and another and another until you die. Then you have to stop with goals because, well, you’re dead and that makes it a problem.
  • Am I at success now and I don’t know it? I suffer from bouts of depression, so what might really be successful in my life looks like a garbage dump. So I need to define it so I’ll know it when I see it.
  • My definition of success shouldn’t be my identity. My relationship with Jesus Christ defines me/is my identity. So many folks want their definition of success to define them. Well, what happens with a change of life and now success is defined as something else?

I’ve come across writer after writer who believes that a book published will meet that need for recognition and maybe even some payback to the haters who said the writer wouldn’t make it.  But I can say from experience, the published book meets NO needs except the need to work harder and have less fun time. It’s become a second job for me. I used to tell non-writers,

Hey, a publisher picked up my novel!!

That’s nice, hey, have you heard what Kim Kardashian did last week?

Um, no, but my book!!

That’s nice, did you hear Obama is actually an alien from outer space and has come here to suck out our brains?

Um no, but my book!!

Oh look at the time, I have to go. Bye now!! And good luck with your paintings.

My book!

Even other writers aren’t impressed.

I got my book published!!

That’s nice, Is your publisher a huge New York outfit with tons of money?

Well, no, it’s a smaller publisher.

Oh, so you’re not technically published then.

Well, yes, I have the book here.

That’s nice.

Sigh… So you see, there’s really nothing there but my family sure is happy for me.

So back to success. Don’t define success as a way to fill your needs. God meets my needs, so the book doesn’t count as a defined success. It fills nothing in my life needs. Except the need for a nap. I love naps!

Once you’ve defined your success ask yourself why do I see this as success? If I say, success for me is having a book published and on the bookshelves, I have to ask why do I want my books on the shelves?

Well so I can be special and cute and everyone would LOVE me!!! Um, no. It doesn’t work that way.

Don’t be general, be specific. This will eliminate that jealousy and envy that plagues almost every writer when they see a successful writer moving on in their career, which happens more than you know.

  • What do you SEE yourself doing five years from now? Cut out magazine pictures or grab pictures from the internet that show what you see yourself doing.
  • Why do I see myself doing that thing? What is its purpose?
  • Is the definition fulfilling a need in my life for love, acceptance from others, self-acceptance, payback time, etc.?
  • If the defined success is a need, then know it will NOT fulfill what you are needing. You have to fill that need with either realizing you are loved by others, that you accept yourself with your warts and all or revenge gets you nowhere.
  • Is the definition attainable? Ruling the known universe really isn’t attainable. Make your goal attainable within this universe and timeline. (And other spatial timelines don’t count. Sorry, Dr. Who fans.)
  • So what do you really WANT, not need.

We live in such a fallen and foul world that some of us wouldn’t know success if it bit us on the leg. I stumbled on this great article from Business Insider:  How 9 Incredibly Successful People Define Success  (I used the first 4 interviews.)

  • Arianna Huffington from the Huffington Post says

“Huffington says that while we tend to think of success along two metrics — money and power — we need to add a third.

“To live the lives we truly want and deserve, and not just the lives we settle for, we need a Third Metric,” she says, “a third measure of success that goes beyond the two metrics of money and power, and consists of four pillars: well-being, wisdom, wonder, and giving.”

Together, those factors help you to take care of your psychological life and truly be successful, or as the title of her new book suggests, “Thrive.”

  • Basketball coach John Wooden says

His definition is more about competing with yourself than the other guy:

“Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming,” he said.

  • Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh said

Your personal core values define who you are, and a company’s core values ultimately define the company’s character and brand,” Hsieh writes in “Delivering Happiness,” his memoir about building Zappos.

“For individuals, character is destiny,” he says. “For organizations, culture is destiny.”

  • Maya Angelou said success is embracing your work.

“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”

How’s that for defining success? A lot different from I want millions of dollars and write so many books that people drown in them.

I’ve learned, the general Lots-of-money-and-published-books goals get boring after a while. Why? Because it’s not who you are and what you REALLY want. I thought I’d have a great blog with lots of folks following it. I would publish my novels and sell them from the blog. Everyone would know my name.

I had a successful blog a few years ago, but I got bored with it and hackers launched their viruses on it. I lost it. But I didn’t care. Why? It wasn’t what I wanted.  Folks have stopped me at church and said, that’s the person I told you about.

Um, I didn’t do it.

She’s that writer with that successful Writer’s small group.

Did that make me happy? Not really. I was flattered and glad they know of my writers group, but being with my friend Angie and her family and having long discussions about Dr Who is lot more fun for me. Or preparing to watch the next Star Wars movie and making everyone costumes to wear to the show rocks out my world.

So based on all of this, My definition of success is:

  • I want to be secured in my relationship with God and with myself.
  • I know what it’s like to be on the writing road and wonder if you’re on the right path. So I want to help others reach their dreams through teaching and seminars. In order to teach, I have to learn and I love to learn new things!!
  • I want to learn new ways of marketing my novels as I have a marketing degree so again, I can help others. I really didn’t have a lot of help in my writing journey and now I want to give back to others through what I learn.
  • I want to write books in which I get lost in them and that others enjoy them. And it’s not my problem what others think of me.

That’s it, that’s my definition of success. Now that wasn’t so hard now was it? Next time around, let’s discuss how to get there and how to attain goals which will get you to your defined success. I’ll be sharing what Ms. Dorie taught.


One thought on “Defining Success.

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  1. Great post! Michael Hyatt said “happiness doesn’t come in attaining the prize; it comes in the pursuit.” I agree that we never *make it* per se because we’re always supposed to pursue something next and next, and enjoy the time getting there. I think that’s a part of success too – loving where we’re at on the way.


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