|Success as defined |
Merriam-Webster defines the word ‘success’ as 1) the fact of getting or achieving wealth, respect or fame; and 2) the correct or desired result of an attempt.
For some, achieving wealth, etc., is the only correct definition. It is the only goal on which to focus, and those who don’t embrace this truism will always be less than they could be. In essence, nothing else really matters except increasing the financial bottom line and personal prominence.
For others, achieving the desired result of an attempt is the ultimate accomplishment, regardless of what that attempt entails. For instance, many people feel successful because they are able to live simply with relatively little stress and have sufficient funding to support that lifestyle. It is the simple pleasures in life, rather than driving the top of the line 2015 Audi to a multi-million dollar home, that defines success for them.
The definition of success
is different for everyone.
Don’t get me wrong; there is nothing wrong with either opinion (after all, that’s really what it is).
The fact of the matter is that the definition of success is different for everyone based on many different factors such as personality, life experiences, and exposure to, or opportunities for, resources to not only set, but to also achieve goals.
For instance, the difference between a nonprofit organization and a for-profit organization is simply the main focus of their efforts. Both want to be successful (whatever that means to them), but they go about it in different ways.
Nonprofits focus most of their efforts and resources on achieving their mission. However, none of that can be done without identifying and soliciting funding/donations to support the programs and services it provides.
In some nonprofits, the development team is larger than the other organizational teams combined simply because the amount of funding needed to support the mission is so great. While increasing the financial bottom line is a measure of success for a nonprofit organization, it isn’t the most important one. The mission is always Priority #1.
For-profit organizations also have a mission to fulfill, but the most important measure of success for these boards of directors and stockholders is achieving an ever-growing financial bottom line.
Just like their nonprofit counterparts, for-profits cannot provide programs or services without funding (stockholder and sales) support, so in this case, product sales and stockholder satisfaction are the highest priorities for the team.
Again, neither one is better than the other; they are just different.
For me, the definition of professional success includes the achievement of my academic goals (PhD) and sufficient client-base activity at Dawn GannonConsulting to support my family at or above a specifically-defined (and private) financial level. I have been somewhat successful in reaching these goals, and I know that only time, resources and hard work will make them happen. Without a doubt, there is still much to be done.
However, like everyone else, I also have a personal definition of success. For me, that includes family, friends, good health, and peace of mind. For the moment, I’m doing well there, but there is always room for improvement.
The closer I move to the magical age of 50 (6 months from now!), the more I understand that the underlying key for success for any person or organization is simply the definition. Once you are happy with the definition that meets your needs, all that remains is the journey to get there.
So, I ask: What is your definition of success? What words of wisdom can you share from your journey toward that goal?
Before founding her own consulting firm, Dawn Gannon served as a respected project management and administrative operations professional in the military, higher education, and healthcare fields for 25 years. As a Lean/Six Sigma Green Belt, Dawn’s commitment and personal mission to improve the lives of others through service to the community focuses on providing administrative and volunteer management, consumer education, public outreach, event planning, relationship-building efforts, and strategic planning. She is the author of the Management in Motion blog, and has written a number of articles for RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association on the topic of childfree living.