Innovation and Resistance to change

Jan 23, 2023

How Do You Define Success?

Written by Mariateresa Romeo

I want my team to succeed.” “I want to set them up for success.”  “This is the first step to a successful career.”

How many times did you hear that?

I am impressed by how frequently the word success is used in business conversations, mainly when discussing goals, programs, or commitments.
As a Professional Coach and Neurolinguistic Master Practitioner, I can’t help but notice which words people choose to express themselves and how they use them.

I believe success is one of the most overused and misinterpreted words in business environments. Ironically, the more I hear expressions about success, the less I see people working toward the same goals. 

Let me explain why. When your boss says that they want you to be successful, you perceive that the two of you are in alignment, and you feel confident they will support you in achieving what you want and think it is good for you. However, have you ever asked what your success exactly looks like to them?

Success means accomplishing an aim or purpose and is strictly related to everyone’s priorities and values.

Success consists of attaining wealth and positions in society for someone. For others, it is related to being famous and remembered by future generations. Others consider success as having unlimited resources to choose the life they want without asking anyone’s permission or approval. There is no standard definition of success and no single metric to measure it: we can use money, followers on social media, return on our investments, titles, relationships with people who matter, and so on. We erroneously believe that we all know what success means and share the same idea with our societies, groups, and organizations. But the truth is that what someone considers a success can be a no-brainer for someone else.

So to go back to the example above, when talking about success, is your boss referring to your promotion, compensation, role, influence, or industry reputation? It could be any, all, or none of them.

It never hurts to clarify what success means to ourselves first and then to our interlocutors and be specific, especially when what is at stake is our well-being, professional growth, and accomplishments. Only when we define what we want and aim for, paying attention to the details, can we be sure we get the commitment and support we need to achieve our goals.

Not to mention that from a leadership standpoint, we cannot generate accountability and engagement, have transparent recognition, and reward in our organizations, and, most importantly, drive our team performance without communicating what we aim for the group and each of its members.
Authentic leaders sparingly use high-flown and generic words in their speeches. Their communication style is essential and straightforward. They can envision what is good for them and others and clearly describe it so that others can see, feel, and commit to it. This ability is what differentiates them, what makes them unique.

I consider successful anyone who boldly discovers what makes them unique as human beings and finds a way to bring it into any endeavor of their personal and professional life. I usually say, “success is finding your uniqueness and sharing it with the world.”

Of course, this is my definition of success. There are thousands of other ways of defining success as equally valid. What matters is that all of them arise from our personal answers to the question: what makes you happy above all else?


Do you want to learn more about what success means to me and how to achieve it? Don’t miss my latest podcast with Business RadioX!


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