This article originally published on Forbes.com
We’ve all been told and conditioned to believe that success is whatever you define it to be. The great untold truth is that this is a misguided directive that has prevented a huge percentage of the population from achieving sustainable success.
In my coaching practice, I regularly ask my new clients what their definition of success is. The most common response is a big pause and then an impromptu answer. The second most common response is a nebulous, non-specific one. For example:
Coach: “Can you please tell me what your definition of success is?”
Coach: “What does happiness mean to you?”
Client: “Feeling fulfilled”
Coach: “What fulfills you?”
Client: “Having a lot of money?”
I think you get the unclear picture presented. There is one hardcore fact about achieving success that I’ve learned. If you can’t clearly and specifically define it, you’re either going to:
1. Not achieve it.
2. Take the long, slow road to get there.
3. Not be able to sustain it if you, by chance, achieve some.
I remember as a young entrepreneur starting out, I was determined to become “successful,” and I thought I’d better be clear on society’s definition of success. I consulted the go-to resource for the answer. I grabbed my Merriam-Webster dictionary, and this is what it said:
“a: degree or measure of succeeding
b: favorable or desired outcome; also: the attainment of wealth, favor, or eminence“
Upon reading the definition, I felt disheartened and confused. How could success be caught up in fame, respect or money? It just didn’t feel right. So, I kept researching. I then came across a famous success expert’s definition. In his book Born to Win!, Zig Ziglar says that success cannot be defined in one sentence, but instead it is comprised of many things.
Now I was really confused. For the life of me, I couldn’t understand why there wasn’t a clear, specific and universal definition of success that was one-size-fits-all. Why was there so much lack of clarity on the meaning of success?
In my personal journey of overcoming life-threatening health challenges, financial adversity and spiritual tests — and then becoming a self-made multimillionaire, medaled amateur athlete and coach to people from all walks of life, from main street to Wall Street, gang members, cons and ex-cons — I discovered the true and singular definition of success, the one that is indeed the one-size-fits-all definition. It’s the one definition that, if used collectively by society, would help us achieve success more rapidly and sustainably.
So, here it goes: Success is defined as a balanced achievement of wealth and well-being through consistently living the truth of ones’ grace-inspired values.
A broken definition of success is one that does not take a holistic approach. It leaves out some aspect of the whole person. The whole person is:
Does fame provide nourishment to the whole person? Does accomplishing one singular goal? Does wealth cover all aspects? No. Only a balanced achievement of wealth and well-being can do that. And, one can only accomplish that balance through consistently living the truth of their values. If not, the “success” is at risk of failing. I could go into a multitude of real-life stories of people who achieved some aspect of success and then lost it because they either compromised their values or, through not knowing their core values, failed to prioritize living them out in all their decision making.
How do you start to clearly and specifically define what wealth, well-being and your values are? First, ask yourself these two essential questions:
1. What is the most important thing in the world to you?
2. Why is it the most important thing to you?
Answering these two questions will start you on the path to clearly understand what innate forces drive you so that you can craft a picture of what a balanced achievement of wealth and well-being looks like — one that supports your core needs and provides you with fulfilling and sustainable success. After decades of success coaching and working with both individuals and corporations, I’ve discovered that every single goal anyone goes after is an attempt to fulfill only one of two things: security or recognition.
When defining success and goal-setting, take your whole person into account, know your core values, understand what’s important to you and understand that you’re always either seeking security or recognition. Make sure that all you seek is grounded in humility rather than ego to ensure you’ll achieve sustainable “success,” as defined as a balanced achievement of wealth and well-being.
Ever hear that Yiddish adage, “Man Plans, and God Laughs”? When I first heard that saying I thought it was written by a really, negative person who also had a punishing God concept. I quickly discarded the age old “wisdom” as not applicable to me and continued on being and doing my Type A workaholic behaviors (back in the day).
Hi, my name is Linda and I’m a recovering hardcore planner. LOL! No, seriously, this is a very important principle of success to pay attention to, especially if you’re an overachiever. Overachievers tend to plan, plan, plan and back-up plan. That was me! I would freak out if I lost my Franklin planner (I’m showing my age here—grimace) or left it at home, or god forbid, Franklin Covey ran out of stock and I had to wing it.
I clearly remember the turning point when I realized I was not helping, but rather, hurting myself with this unrelenting habit of having to stick to the plan and achieve the desired outcome or call myself a loser for not being able to make it happen. I had this blinding moment of clarity that my unwillingness to accept the reality of the facts in front of me was a rigidity and inability to let go and trust in the organic flow of where I was meant to go, grow and succeed.
Here’s How to Let-Go and Let God, the Universe or Life Help Guide You to Succeed Beyond the Plans You’ve Made:
1. Accept the reality that you won’t ever know in advance how it will go or turn out when you make plans.
2. Trust yourself that you do have the strength, courage and intelligence to make necessary adjustments to your plans on an as needed basis on your journey to success.
3. Give yourself the permission to cancel a plan if it reveals itself to be against your core beliefs, values or is harmful to your wealth or well-being.
4. Don’t make plans just because that’s what “you’re supposed to do” or to fulfill the need to have “to do” something.
5. Only make as many plans that your intuition, innate intelligence, rational analysis and spiritual practice reveal that is necessary to grow and nurture yourself in healthy constructive ways.
“Surrender to what is. Let go of what was. Have faith in what will be.”
We can’t control life, but we can control our perspective, attitude, thoughts and actions. We can learn to accept the uncertainty of life and have faith that the journey is organically leading us to our highest and best destiny. We can make it an easier, softer, more exciting and rewarding journey by learning how and when to let go.
Be assured, you are not a failure and your future is not fatal should you decide to change your plans in order to embrace the flow of life.
What will you decide? To be flexible and go with the flow or remain inflexible and insist it’s your way or no way? I can tell you from personal experience, the latter makes life harsh and harms your ability to achieve the fulfilling life and destiny that is meant for you to have.
In Closing My Shocking Confession: I worked on this multi-million dollar high profile deal for years. All sides wanted it to work out. Everyone was putting in maximum effort. And yet, at every turn we were presented with a new obstacle. I was determined not to give up on the deal. It was life-changing money to me. I was representing both sides. Both sides were emphatic that they should have it their way on the deal breaker contract terms. Neither side could or would budge. I had the aha moment that it was time to let go. Or was I just tired of the arguing and failing to bring the deal to fruition? I dug deep within myself and realized it was time to walk away. The parties were too rigid, and I was wasting my valuable time and energy. I took my $10M in financing with me and moved on. And, to this day (years later) that seller still hasn’t closed a deal with anyone. And, through this letting-go, I was led to start an entirely new business which has been far more rewarding and giving me a life that I love.
Happy New Year! I’m determined to make this my most successful year ever! How about you?
No matter how much success or lack of success you’ve achieved up to this point, there is always a way forward to expand your wealth and well-being. But, expansion takes introspection, and if you’re not willing to go to any lengths to grow yourself, how can you possibly believe you’re going to increase your wealth and well-being? It’s magical thinking to believe you’ll get that which you want and haven’t yet gotten, by doing the same ole’ things. To get what you want, you must do something different. And, your own happiness and success is 100% your full responsibility, not anybody else’s.
The New Year is always a good time to take a fearless personal inventory of yourself to realistically determine what new behaviors and habits you need to do to achieve the success that you want in 2018 and beyond.
One immediate way to enter the new year and to shift your attitude to a success mindset is to begin to see every single outcome as an opportunity to increase your success. You see, defeat only becomes failure if you accept it as such. Defeat is an opportunity waiting to be transformed into a bigger success than if you had achieved victory the 1st go around—that is if you know how to convert your losses into wins.
Here Are the Top Four Ways to Convert Your Perceived Losses into Even Greater Wins:
1. Attitude is Everything: Adopt a winner’s attitude about success by understanding that you will win some and lose some. The uber successful know that it’s not whether they win or lose that counts, but how they handle both scenarios that will determine the amount of sustainable success they’ll be able to achieve going forward. Have an attitude of grace, gratitude and a commitment to extract the growth opportunity in every win or loss and you’ll succeed beyond your expectations.
2. Drop the Blame Game: Blame is a total waste of valuable energy, that time spent there, only delays your time frames to your next win. Take the hit, grab the gold in what the situation revealed and move into renewed action.
3. Use Hindsight as a Valuable Tool: All positive action starts with assessment. Use rational analysis rather than self-loathing to evaluate what you’ve learned, what you’ll do differently or additionally next time around. Seeing hindsight as an asset and roadmap to your next win will make the assessment a positive experience.
4. Be a Long-Term Player: Everyone wants to be a long-term player, but not everyone has the long-term player play book. Only the grateful, graceful, good sportsmanlike behaved, and compassionate person (who truly cares about everyone’s success), will become a successful long-termer. Those who don’t, won’t or can’t, simply will not be able to sustain success in the long-run.
If you can honestly say that you went all in it to win it, regardless of the perceived outcome, you’ve won. Be truthful with yourself in assessing if you gave 100% commitment to the process and if not, don’t beat yourself up. Use the valuable insight gained to grow your success going forward. That’s what winners do.
We are perfectly imperfect human beings. But, if you continue to do the interior work by taking fearless personal inventory, you will continue to grow yourself and your ability to expand your everlasting wealth and well-being.
In Closing My Shocking Confession: I was looking for a company to place a very large order with. There were a handful of companies who threw their hat in the ring to compete to win the bid. I was one-third the way through the selection process, when a company who was one I had initially reached out to, finally came forward. Though late on the scene, the executive was very personable, communicative, informative and within competitive market cost range. It finally came down to choosing between the late-comer and the first-comer. The first-comer had earned an early advantage that the late-comer just wouldn’t be able to make up in the time frames I needed. Once I advised the late-comer that I had decided to go with his competitor, but that I would be awarding another contract next quarter, the exec dropped me like a hot potato – no reply. In hindsight, the late on the scene action was a tip-off of the type of unsportsmanlike conduct that would later be revealed. He not only lost once, but lost all my business going forward.
Here’s the unvarnished, uncensored truth about success. Even if you’re a rock star sales person who knows how to sell, if you don’t put at least as much effort into taking the deal and your client relationship successfully through the back end post-closing process, you will not ultimately achieve the success that you initially thought you had “in the bank”. And, any gain realized at closing, could be lost, or even worse, cost you more than you initially banked.
I don’t want you to think this post only relates to business, because it relates virtually to every aspect of your life. The success of your life (personal, financial, physical, emotional and spiritual) is contingent upon an on-going commitment to actively engage in efforts to do what you need to do to keep all your affairs operating in good working order.
Too many times, I’ve either witnessed or been a part of a deal gone bad because someone who sold something dropped the ball on delivering the goods, services or warranties that were promised.
Baby, if you ain’t got back end, you’re gonna regret it down the road. It just ain’t worth the risk. Take the time to take care of the deal, transaction, contract, relationship, or account. If you do, instead of regrets, you’ll achieve maximum sustainable success…and be a whole lot happier, healthier and wealthier in the long run.
You don’t close a sale; you open a relationship if you want to build a long-term, successful enterprise. ~ Patricia Fripp
Here Are the Top Six Things You Must Do to Achieve the Optimal Back End Strategy for Long-Term Success:
1. Live the Reality the Sales Cycle Does Not Stop at Closing the Sale. See it as phase 2 of building a successful long-term relationship and nurture it.
2. Maintain A Balanced Achievement of Pursuing New Sales and Servicing Existing Customers. Repeat business is the biggest payout you can achieve. If you’re only focusing on new sales and new leads, you’ll shortchange your success.
3. Realize Achieving a Successful Deal Is Found in the Details. Fearlessly pay attention to the details of the deal. Many people fear losing a deal if they assert their boundaries on deal points and contract terms.
4. Be Honest with Yourself and Others. Don’t offer something that you realistically can’t manage to maintain over the term.
5. Value and Prioritize Your Relationships Over Money. When you care more about people than money, you will begin to see both your wealth and well-being skyrocket.
6. Habitually Go the Extra Mile. Exceed in delivering more service and value than necessary or expected.
At the end of the day, your relationships are what makes you or breaks you. Whether it’s your relationship with yourself, others or God; as you consistently and continuously serve, appreciate and value them, they will, in turn, serve you by adding long- term value to your wealth and well-being. If you got back end, they’ll in turn, cover yours.
In Closing My Shocking Confession: I had just signed a long- term lease agreement with a great company to provide their product to my enterprise. The terms of the deal allowed them hefty earn outs and commissions during the life of the contract which would far exceed the purchase price. Both the provider and I were very excited about our new relationship and we sailed through the closing. They banked the purchase price. And, within 60days, all the problems began. A whole host of issues arose from not having the support staff as promised, to constantly charging for non-contract driven items. After months of friendly attempts to get them back on track, they finally come forward in stating they didn’t have what they had promised and didn’t have the resources to deliver on the contract. However, they expected me to honor the terms of the contract by solving and financing their problems for them! Their belief that they “had me over the barrel” for all the time, effort and expense I’d invested, emboldened them to attempt to extort more from me. They didn’t believe I would walk away. I’m sure you can guess what I did? I cut my losses and got out. And, legally recouped cash.
This article originally published at Forbes.com
Entrepreneurs are routinely reminded that they need to “stay hungry” to sustain competitive advantage and success. Though that may be true, what you don’t always hear is that there is a real and present danger in becoming too hungry for success.
The difference between being hungry and too hungry can be summed up in one word: discernment. When you’re hungry for success, you are driven to go to great lengths to achieve your objectives — short of sacrificing your boundaries, values or integrity. But in being too hungry for success, desire overtakes discernment. You dive headfirst into dangerous territory where managed risk is no longer present.
In my many decades coaching, from Main Street to Wall Street, I’ve borne direct witness to the consequences of being too hungry for success. The financial and personal losses ranging from mild to life-threatening are consequences that can be avoided if one learns to recognize the warning signs
How do you know when being hungry is manifesting into being too hungry? Here are the top five signs.
1. You desperately make decisions: High achievers often feel pressure to outperform and prove themselves to others — at an accelerated pace at that. In a too-hungry state, your ability to maintain rational analysis amid challenges or crises is compromised, resulting in a false self-narrative that justifies unethical conduct to solve problems.
2. You’re impatient: When you’re too hungry, you take imprudent action, rationalizing that you must do something right now. Successful entrepreneurs understand the prudence in waiting for the right opportunity.
3. You have false pride: In a normal hungry-for-success state, you care more about successfully solving problems and overcoming challenges than about how you are being perceived, even if that means exposing your losses or mistakes. In a too-hungry state, ego rears its head, causing leaders to care more about the opinions of others. That includes shutting out those who can help them during critical times.
4. You lack faith: When you’re too hungry for success, you don’t make time to develop or practice habits that lead to maintaining positivity, confidence, faith and hope. Devoid of faith, you fail to gain the courage, strength, endurance, inspiration and direction drawn from having the mindfulness or spiritual practice necessary to grow and sustain success.
5. You’re a workaholic: In a too-hungry state, you prioritize work above everything, including your own and others’ wellbeing. You falsely believe you can’t afford to take a break, lest you risk failure.
Here’s a very important fact to know about becoming too hungry for success: Every single person can get into that state of being. In my book, I share real-life stories of good, ethical people who slipped into the too-hungry-for-success state, resulting in avoidable hardships. One of these stories is about a very successful entrepreneur — a charismatic president of his church — who got so angry and tired of being falsely accused of a petty crime that he began to fight back unethically. His justification was that because these people did him wrong, they deserved to be treated the way they treated him.
The takeaway here is that the pathway to prevention is to never allow yourself to become too much of anything, whether it’s hungry, angry, lonely or tired. What does that mean? Recognize and honor your most valuable asset (you) by maintaining healthy habits of self-care, no matter what is or isn’t happening in your life. Optimal self-care is doing all the things that you would advise your child or client to do to maintain a healthy body, mind and spirit.
Become vigilant in recognizing the too-hungry-for-success warning signs — and when they do begin to manifest, halt. Stop for a time-out to refuel yourself via rest, relaxation, sound nutrition, exercise and meditation. Your body needs to regain an objective state of mind. There is no risk in halting, only reward.