Defining success… for yourself

June 21, 2020 4 min read

By now we all know that I am a self-diagnosed quote junky. Due to this diagnosis I could spit out dozens of definitions of success as defined by people much smarter than me. After tiring you with endless quotes, I would tell you that those quotes are simply inspirational and that you should not use them as your definition of success. Wait what…?! You don’t abide by everything you learn from those quotes? Ummm no. I don’t blindly follow anything, period. I know I come across as defiant at times. We will leave that as a conversation or therapy session for another time. Back to defining success.


Just like one of the overarching themes of this website, I do what is authentic to me and who I am striving to become. Therefore, that means again that my definition of success and yours will be and should be different. My definition of success encompasses measures from different areas of my life. Success for me is defined according to the following areas: professional accomplishments, personal life, financial achievements, spiritual growth, and my family. Because I am an over-sharer with no boundaries, I will share my definition.


Success means that I have attained the following:


Professional accomplishment – No longer having to introduce myself when I walk into a room. When I speak, people listen, not because I am right but because I am known for being thoughtful and intentional when I speak. That I would have ascended to the highest position in my industry.


Personal life – I have opened myself up to giving and receiving love from a person that complements me, believes in me, and has a vision for our future.


Financial achievement – There is no number. Simply, I will no longer have to worry about the next paycheck. I am able to live a fiscally responsible life, where I have the means to fund projects designed to better the lives of children aging out of foster care and pregnant women with no support system. I would like to pay for my son, nieces, and nephews to attend the colleges of their choice so they do not have to rely on student loans. I would like to send my mother on a trip around the world with her best friend.


Spiritual growth – A better understanding of God. That I continually see him in everything; the good, bad, and the ugly, understanding that it is all being done for my good.


Family– As I have said (and will continue to say), I have the best family ever. I would like to help my son find his voice. I would like to model the principles of living a BAM life for my family in all I do and help them achieve their best selves.


So how do you achieve success? There are so many steps and schools of thought out there but I will share mine.

  • Failure to plan means planning to fail
  • Actions speak louder than words.
  • Fail fast
  • Assess
  • Don’t give up
  • Reassess


Failure to plan means planning to fail: Without a plan, your vision is just a dream. A plan helps keep you focused, it motivates you, and it keeps you honest. Plans also help you identify steps that you may have overlooked. Having your plan written will help you with the other steps.


Actions speak louder than words: Don’t talk about it, be about it! We’ve all heard that or some iteration of it. Most of us can talk a great game but are unable to match those words with actions. This inaction typically has multiple causes, but let’s focus on the main one; fear. Fear of failure, loss, ridicule, etc. has the effect of limiting our vision to simply being a dream.


Fail fast: How do you deal with your fear? Fail fast! So let’s deal with what everyone is thinking; no one wants to fail. With all due respect, DUH! However, if you can name one successful person who has never failed, I would then be able to name one person who has lied about his/her journey, or better yet a person who is not successful. Everyone fails. But what you learn from that failure and how quickly you regroup makes the difference between success and failure.


Assess: Assess where you are after the failure. Go back to your vision and your plans for executing the vision. Look at them with a critical yet more experienced eye. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What failed?
  • Why did it fail?
  • What did you learn from the failure?
  • How can you tweak the plan using the lessons learned to get you closer to success?


Don’t give up: Though it may be tempting, do not give up on this process. Success will come with hard work and diligence; you just have to be patient. We’ve all seen people who appear to be overnight successes but we don’t know the road they took to attain success.


Reassess: If at some point you are not achieving your vision, you may need to reassess the vision. Let’s be clear, I said reassess not cancel the vision. You must revise the vision based on lessons learned. This doesn’t mean your vision was wrong, it means you didn’t have enough information and/or expertise when you began to articulate your vision.


The final word… Success is not one size fits all and it does not follow a linear path. At the end of the day, no one can determine what success looks like for you, other than you.


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