How Do You Define Success?

Here in the USA we are a culture obsessed with winning.  All you had to do was watch a college or pro football game over the weekend to know what I mean.  The recent backlash against giving children “participation trophies” is another example of our winning obsessed culture — more on that in another post.

The article below delves into what it takes to become a winner…

Dan’s first point, “Define success in order to win” is a great starting point.

I tell members of my career mentoring site that their personal definition of winning is fundamental to their career success. Your success all begins with a clear picture of how you define career success.

When I was 25, if you’d asked me what I wanted to be doing when I was 50 I would have told you, “Running a one person consulting, coaching and speaking business from my house.” Guess what? I have been running a one person consulting, coaching and speaking business from my house ever since 1988. My clarity of purpose propelled me toward my goal.

I have a friend who is a serial entrepreneur. He started a software business when he was 27. He built it up and sold it to a major computer manufacturer by the time he was 35. He has since started and sold four other companies. His clarity of purpose lies in the challenge of creating something new, building it into a viable sustainable business and then moving on.

I have another friend who recently retired as the Executive VP of Human Resources for a Fortune 50 company. We were chatting a few days ago. She told me that when she was in college, she decided that she was going to join a good company and work her way up the ladder. She took an entry-level HR job with a company she liked. It took her over 25 years, but she eventually became the most senior HR person in that company. Her clarity of purpose and definition of success was different from mine and the serial entrepreneur’s, but she reached her goal.

My second friend told me that her son has a different definition of success. He is not interested in climbing the corporate ladder, or in being an entrepreneur. He wants an interesting job where he can contribute, but he doesn’t want to spend inordinate amounts of time at work. He wants to spend as much time with his family as he can. His definition of success is different from his mother’s.

All four of us are professional successes – according to our clarity of purpose.

The common sense point here is simple.  There is no one correct definition of life and career success. There are as many definitions as there are people in this world. Your definition of success is what’s right for you – not anyone else. I would not have been happy building and selling a number of businesses in succession, climbing a corporate ladder, or working for a large company in an individual contributor position. However, as you can tell from the stories of the three people above, they were. They knew what they wanted, they went after it and they got it.

That’s why defining your clarity of purpose is so important. Your clarity of purpose provides both a foundation and launching pad for your success. The old saying, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you won’t know when you get there” is a cliché, but true. Getting clear on your personal definition of success is the first step to becoming a success.

If you haven’t already done so, I suggest you take some time and think about your clarity of purpose. How do you define life and career success for yourself? Keep that purpose and definition in mind as you go about your daily work.

Your career mentor,


PS: I write this blog to help people create the life and career success they want and deserve. Now I’m going one step further. I’ve created a membership site in which I’ve pulled together my best thoughts on success. And, as a reader of this blog, you can become a member for free. Just go to to claim your free membership. You’ll be joining a vibrant and growing community of success minded professionals. I hope to see you there.



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