How Do You Define Success

Ron Finklestein

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I was on a sales call and it went well – until the prospect said “I want you to make me successful. ”

My comment to him was short and to the point. I asked “can you define success for me so I know if I can help?”

He answered “No. ”

We agreed to do business together and I would help them define what success would look like for him.

In this case it was fairly easy. He was a business owner who had to sell, make payroll, and keep his business alive. We create some short term success goals around his business and added to those for his emotional, spiritual, social, physical and family needs. Those last ones were a little tougher.

Do others know how you define success? If you can’t, how can others help you succeed? Is it in the amount of money you make?

Is it in the number of customers?

Is it defined in financial terms such as gross margin?

Is it defined in time off?

Is it related to family, spiritual, social or emotional desires?

I sat down with my mastermind group and asked them this question: What is success and how do you create it?

We decided the definition of Success cannot be effectively measured and defined. It is different for each person. The clerk at the grocery store is no less successful than a business owner who runs a $20M business. The clerk at the grocery store may be focused on volunteer work, family and other things that are more meaningful to them.

We determined that there are six attitudes that must be present to achieve any kind of goals.

They are listed below in no particular order.

Clarity of Purpose
Clarity of purpose can be defined as knowing what you want. Many times a defining moment drives clarity of purpose. Many members of the group talked about how they lost a job, a company or experienced other major life changing events that were the predecessor to getting clear on what is important.

In our discussion of a defining moment, we determined that it can change our entire perspective if we let it. It can happen at any time. It is a personal decision to embrace the lessons this event teaches. There can be more than one defining moment.

One individual shared his personal story of how defining moments seemed to happen every 7 years, especially after a long span of thing going well.

Accepting your defining moment takes courage. It takes courage to “step out of being an ordinary man” and deciding to follow your dream. It takes courage to change your focus from where you are to where you want to be and taking the action necessary to grow and achieve.

Have a Seekers Mindset
A seekers mindset says there is an answer out there. A seeker does whatever is necessary to find that answer. A seeker will read, learn, talk with others. A seeker takes solutions that worked in other places to see if they can work in his situation. A seeker looks at things differently. It requires you to explore your own limitation so you can move past them. This means not stopping until you have the answer.

Seekers lack mental boundaries. Lack of mental boundaries means to look at things in an entirely different way and asking a different set of questions. For example, a different question would be “in what ways can I accomplish this” instead of “how can I accomplish this. ” By simply changing the question or how the question is asked you change how the brain looks for an answer. There are several activities that must occur to break through mental boundaries:

-Make thinking out of the box a habit. It is not something you can turn on at the drop of a hat. It is like any other muscle; you must use it or lose it.
-Thinking out of the box cannot be limited to just business problems. It involves all aspects of your life: physical, emotional, spiritual, and psychological.
-Eliminate negative expressions such as “I can’t” and “that won’t work. ” What you focus on you attract. Focusing on what will not work does not allow for different possibilities to arise.
- Boundaries are a perception and perceptions can be changed. The only boundaries we face are the ones we believe in. At one point our beliefs served us. We must ask the question do they serve us now. If they don’t we must identify and change them.
- Redefining failure. Tom Edison was great a reframing failure. He believed he never failed. When he did not get the expected results he wanted he reframed the experience and said to himself “I found another way that did not work!”

Daily Commitment
Daily commitment is a choice to believe/behave in a certain way. Success is a daily choice. It is a daily decision to create a habit of success. It is a decision of doing what others are afraid of doing.

Purposeful Action
It is hard to have purposeful action unless you have clarity of purpose. Purposeful actions mean working on what is important to you and staying true to that purpose.

Proper Expectations
We must create the proper expectations of the outcome. This is more difficult because beliefs drive expectations. It is important to focus on the beliefs you want to build so you can grow and change in your life. To change belief systems you must surround yourself with people who think differently, engage in positive self talk, be a continuous learner (learn to apply knowledge from others areas in your situation), reduce/eliminate negative people and programs that influence your thinking in a negative way, challenge your own beliefs to see if they serve your purpose.

How do you define success?

Ronald Finklestein, President of AKRIS, LLC, is a small business success expert, business coach, consultant, speaker, author, and trainer, and has published three books, Celebrating Success! Fourteen Ways to a Successful Company ( ), The Platinum Rule to Small Business Mastery ( ) and 49 Marketing Secrets (THAT WORK) to Grow Sales (available April 2007). He contributed to 101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life. Finklestein is available for coaching and consulting and for speaking engagements, workshops, and seminars. Check out You can contact him at or reach him at (330) 990-0788.


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