How you measure success speaks volumes about your character and is a major indicator of how you will treat others. If your motto is, “the one with the most possessions wins,” then you will spend your life working to accumulate things at the expense of people.

Gaining clarity on the meaning of success is paramount to pursuing a life worth living. Desiring to be successful is not wrong. In fact, it is vital. The problem is in how you measure success. We are bombarded by a plethora of mixed messages attempting to define success for us. I caution you, don’t be led astray by these messages.

Four Common Success Messages Vying For Your Attention

Success is defined in comparison to others. I think I am successful when I am like others and have what others have.

Success is measured externally and with numbers. How much I make, how many people work for me, etc.

Success is equated with self-enjoyment. I must be successful if I have many things that bring pleasure: vacations, possessions, fine dining, etc.  My conversations are about the things I get to enjoy in life.

Success is justified by accomplishments, titles, and positions.  I must continue to move up in order to justify my success.

What if there is a very different measure of success? 

In my ongoing study of leadership traits, I have acquired some clarity about what success can actually look like. Leaders have a significant impact on defining success and they stand as examples that others can learn from. We all are aware of leaders whose faulty definition of success led to their demise and often affected others as well. Fortunately, there are abundant examples of leaders that pursue success in a way that benefit others as well as themselves.

Six Measures of Successful Leaders 

Lead themselves before leading others– Personal growth is key to character and professional development to be a leader worth following.

Discover and develop their strengths– Humility recognizes you can’t be good at everything so you focus on one or two things at which you can excel.

Create a culture for others to do their best work. Leaders understand that their role does not supersede the contribution of others. There is room for excellence on the whole team.

Empower others. Rather than exert control, leaders create trust and teamwork.

Recognize and celebrate the people who accomplish goals for the team.

Share the wealth with those who help produce it.

Notice that successful leaders measure success by possessing character that assists others to accomplish great work together. The end result can often be measured in wealth and titles, but a successful leader values the impact on others as the highest accomplishment.

“Know yourself, settle your why,

and you have the capacity to focus on others.” 

John Maxwell

A powerful but simple definition of success that one leader shared: That the people who know me best will love and respect me the most.  That is a definition that will stand the test of time.

How do YOU measure success for your life?


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