What Does Success Look Like?

“Success” is a word that evokes many emotions: happiness, relief, exhilaration, exhaustion, competition, standing out in a crowd, fighting your way through the crowd, leading all the way, coming from behind, overcoming obstacles, grit and determination. That’s why I love asking everyone to describe their own answer to the question: “What does success look like?”

What is your answer to this question? “What does success look like to you?” You can specify quantitative goals for sure, and I also encourage you to expand it to include qualitative achievements.

The value of your answer lies in its specificity. The more specific you are, the more likely you will be able to claim you’ve achieved success. Let’s look at one qualitative and one quantitative definition for you to set your sights on for your business and your life.

Qualitative Success

Being present. Specifically, you can say “Success looks like me doing one thing at a time, and putting all my energy and attention to that one thing for a certain length of time.” Each time you start a conversation, answer emails, attend a meeting, implement a tactic, search for a service provider, deliver services to others, you will be fully attentive to what you’re doing. You have the opportunity to achieve success in this way several times per day and many times over the course of a month or a year.

One key component of being present is asking if you should be present for a specific activity. Being present is not time management, which is only about organizing your many (often wasteful) activities in some way.

Being present starts with you asking yourself “Does this (proposed use of my time) move me towards my goal, fulfill a need, or make sense given what I’m trying to accomplish?” If “yes,” accept and be present. If “no,” decline and forget it.

Quantitative Success

Increasing company profits. It always surprises me that active and committed business owners invest so much in marketing and sales and so little into generating increased profit—what goes to the owner after all expenses have been covered. This is backwards. They are putting all their attention on inputs and hoping for the best on the output side.

When you answer “What does success look like” with “Success looks like our profit has increased by 15%” you then do everything in your power to achieve that. Your typical or customary sales and marketing efforts, plus your customer service, product development, personnel, and operations are designed to increase profits. And make no mistake: your profits can only consistently increase with additions, not subtractions, like cutting expenses.

What Does Success Look Like for You?

An owner recently told me that success for him looks like deliberately and quickly following up on all leads. He acknowledged that he gets leads fairly often, but then puts them aside in favor of whatever is going on in the moment. Now that he has articulated this one version of what success looks like, he will be much more likely to follow up. Mostly follow up is making one or two phone calls saying “Thanks, I appreciate it. Let’s plan to meet or talk in 5 or 10 days.” It’s not hard, and doing this as leads come in is eminently doable.

What is your answer to “What does success look like?” I’d love to hear at least one way that you describe success. It is the key to actually making this year better than the last.

Best wishes for success—however YOU define it—in 2018!

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