Success? Not interested.
If you want to know why then take a quick visit over to Dictionary.com and look up the definition of success. It reads: the favorable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavors; the accomplishment of one’s goals.
It all sounds fine except for the termination part. It’s just so final, and so backward looking. For me, I’d much rather be continually in the process of succeeding.
Becoming a successful entrepreneur means something a little different to all of us who are infected with the entrepreneurial spirit. For most, though, there is some notion that the pursuit of our passions will eventually lead us to some version of the good life. Only, there is a certain flaw inherent in this idea. It implies that we are waiting for some good life to materialize. And by following this approach, the good life never comes.
But when we lead a life consumed with the process of succeeding, the good life is there with us all the time.
The 4 Pillars of Succeeding
(Or, how to become a successful entrepreneur without using money as your sole measuring stick)
- Building meaningful relationships with the people that your business life touches, and contributing to their advancement and prosperity
- Achieving the goals that you’ve set for yourself (and, obviously, it’s more than okay if some of these are financial)
- Doing work that you are passionate about and that you think makes a difference
- Finding the balance between gratitude for what you have, while continually pushing forward
Redefining Success in Business
Ricardo Semler, CEO and majority owner of Semco Partners, as well as the author of The Seven-Day Weekend, has some very interesting ideas about how to run successful businesses. Semler is best known for his radical management ideas encompassed in a philosophy that he describes as an industrial democracy.
If you’re not familiar with Semler, here is a little anecdote that might give you some insight into his style. When he was young, he took over a mixer and agitator manufacturing company from his father, Semler & Company. One of his earliest initiatives was to tell assembly line workers that they could work whenever they wanted…literally, show up whenever it works for you.
Semler admits that things on the line were a bit chaotic when he first implemented this policy, but in time everything did manage to sort itself out. As proof, when he took over the company in 1982 its annual revenue was $4 million (USD). By 2003, when The Seven-Day Weekend was published, revenues stood at $212 million (USD) annually.
The reason I bring up Semler here is because I heard him give some very interesting advice about how to be successful in business one time. In the interview, he said that he limited his personal wealth to $12 million. Okay, so that’s not exactly a limit for most people, more like a solid financial goal.
However, there is a bigger underlying principle here. And if you are planning on becoming a successful entrepreneur, big is how you should be thinking.
Semler explained that by setting a limit on how much personal wealth he would amass, it kept him from pursuing wealth as an end in itself. When you pursue money for money’s sake, he said, you are constantly thinking, “If I just make X dollars, then I’ll start focusing on my health, happiness, and relationships. Then I’ll start doing things that make a difference.” But we never get there.
You are fighting human nature if you think you can adopt the money-first mentality and then turn it off like a switch the day your bank account hits a certain number. If you begin on that path, you will always think you need to make just a little bit more before you can start enjoying the fruits of your labor.
Someday never comes. You get on the treadmill and remain there, deferring most of the things that make us truly happy, maybe even until it’s too late to enjoy them. Is that anyone’s definition of success?
The Art of Succeeding
It’s not that there is anything wrong with making money. In fact, there are a lot of things right with making money. It’s just that money is not the only—or even the best—metric for determining success.
Of course, this begs the question, what are the metrics of success? If you want to go even one step further, are there any tangible metrics for success at all?
The truth is, especially for those in the process of becoming a successful entrepreneur, we only have fleeting moments of feeling successful. It’s just a state of mind that we attain from time to time. Money, awards, accolades, these are all just ways of keeping score. And with that being the case, shouldn’t we really be spending less of our time trying to be successful and more of our time succeeding?
What exactly do I mean by that? I’ll give you a few examples.
When I am working and really immersed in what I’m doing, because I know I’m pursuing my passion, I’m succeeding. When I’m having a day that is really low energy, but I’m grinding anyway because I’m pursuing my passion, I’m succeeding. When I am interacting with my team members and we are really feeding off of each other, exploring new ideas, and helping each other along the way, I’m succeeding. When I meet with a client and I am prepared and on point and delivering the exact image of my business that I want to convey, I’m succeeding. When I’m with my family and I am completely involved in that experience and I’ve left all my professional concerns at the office, then I know I’m really succeeding.
It’s a process. And no Ferraris are required to make it work!