What Will You Do to Be “Successful”?

This post won’t be long.

It probably won’t share any break-through information.

But that’s the point.

I’ve been working in the world of online marketing for six years now and have looked up to a lot of people because of their “success”.

I’ve also looked DOWN on a lot of people and organizations because of their “success”.

I was inspired to write this post this evening because of some excellent insight from Leo Babauta in an article titled “Why I Don’t Care About Success!”

These paragraphs couldn’t be any more clear:

If all you’re striving for is money, you’ll do horrible things to get it. If all you want is a successful business, you’ll screw people over to get it. If all you want is fame, you’ll give up your dignity to achieve it.

I could probably get a book on the New York Times best-seller list if I really tried, but it’s not something I care enough about, and I know I’d have to do things I wouldn’t be happy doing in order to get there. I’d have to make promises I couldn’t deliver on, sell something to people who are looking for answers I don’t have, trick them into buying the book.

I could make a lot more money than I make now, if I capitalized on all the readers I have and pressured them into buying more things. But I don’t think buying a lot of things is a good thing, so I’d feel crappy doing that. It’s not worth it.

It was interesting and ironic to stumble upon this article today: I’m also reading a book by Ken Blanchard titled “The Power of Ethical Management“.

In the book it addresses business ethics (and ultimately success) with 3 simple check points:

  • Compliance Test: Investigate the laws and the rules and understand the spirit behind them.
  • Ripple Effect: Evaluate the impact of your decision and always assume that your choice will become widely known.
  • Gut Check: Take time to reflect on your decisions, and be sure you are staying true to your own core values. Listen to that inner voice that tells you that what you are doing is right.

I summarize the three step ethics check with basic questions:

  1. Is it legal?
  2. Is it balanced?
  3. Does it make you feel right?

I have a feeling that if people and organizations used this 3 step ethics check, their decisions may not always lead them down the “successful path” they are currently on.

So what is true success?

Do you have to be “un-ethical” to get there?

Defining Success

Leo hit a home-run with his definition of success:

Success isn’t about achieving something in the future, but about doing something right now that you love.

AMEN! AMEN! and AMEN!

If you want to be truly “successful”, focus on what you love and then go and do that.

Am I Successful?

After reading Leo’s article and expounding on it here, I asked myself this very question – Am I “successful”?

I’d like you to ask yourself the same thing – Are you successful?

To assess my current situation, I made the following list based on Leo’s definition of success:

  • I love teaching.
  • I love baseball, soccer, and clogging.
  • I love online marketing, but not every aspect.
  • I love to write and share information in a straight forward, simple approach.
  • I love business partnerships and joint ventures where the sum is greater than the parts by themselves.
  • I love being with my family.
  • I love entrepreneurship.

What I’ve determined is yes, I am successful. I’m doing things right now that I love.

Are YOU successful?

What do YOU love to do?

Are you doing those things right now?

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21 Replies to “What Will You Do to Be “Successful”?”

  1. As a redneck hunter I define success as…alright – not a redneck hunter.

    Lots of good insight on this blog. Recently I have begun the process to either look for another job or contract myself out. The question of where will I be most successful has been a dominant in my mind. As I ask myself that question here are the the things I consider.

    What could the future look like for my family? Will I be able to utilize my strengths to their fullest? What are possible decisions in this path that might ask me to compromise my values? Where can I make the best contribution to those around me – including me?

  2. there was this quote i came across the other day, forget the exact line, but it went something like this:

    wake up in the morning, go to bed in the evening, and in the middle, do what you love

    that to me is what success is

    again, don’t remember exactly what it as referring to, but that’s what stuck in my head

    money is the last definition of success

    lemme tell you something ben cook said to me at blogworld the other day

    he said, i could quit network solutions, go consulting full time, and make a lot more money, but the way things are with my family, and with me personally, i like the division of time, and more money for less free time wouldn’t be a worthwhile trade … i’d rather be making what im making now and have the time i have to enjoy myself

    i ran into the same problem a year and a half ago … everyone wanted a piece of me and i couldn’t stretch myself anymore, so this one client calls me and starts throwing numbers at me, and he was baffled when i said, ‘it wouldn’t matter if you tripled that amount, i simply do not want to take more work, and cannot reneg on existing contracts to fit you in’

    1. Thanks for the GREAT insight Muhammad and Ben. What I’m getting from the comments and pondering the question is this:

      Success is mostly about how you use your time and not really about money at all (although to use your time in certain ways, you HAVE to cover your costs).

      I appreciate the time you shared to give all our readers valuable insights!

  3. Leo’s quote reminds me of an Earl Nightengale quote that says, “Success is the progressive realization of a worthy goal”. Success isn’t a destination. It isn’t some accomplishment. It is a continual now that you progressively pursue that moves you towards your worthy goals and lifestyle.

    For me, I feel most successful when I am living in integrity. When I am living true to my passions, my strengths, the truths that I know and I am pursuing my dreams. I am successful when there is balance to my life and family time is at the core of that balance.

    Great insights Nate! Thanks for sharing.

    1. First off Dave, nice Gravatar!

      I like Nightengale’s quote too – “progressive realization of a worthy goal”.

      I agree that success and integrity go hand in hand too! Thanks so much for the comment!

  4. To distill the comments above, in a little bit of a brash fashion.

    To Matt
    1. Time is the most previous commodity, which you can never get more of. Each of us have an unknown limited supply.

    To Nate
    2. Its easier to call up an old girlfriend than find a new one. “stay in touch with those you have served well”

    1. Thanks for the comment Loren! Love the insight about calling up an old girlfriend vs. getting a new one 🙂 Although I probably won’t pass that on to my wife… LOL I do disagree a bit though with the “old girlfriend” approach:

      If you have “served well”, she would probably STILL be your girlfriend, maybe even your wife.

      You do have to try on a lot of shoes before you find the right fit. Success is a process. Ha!

      Thanks again for the comment!

  5. Success is a hard thing to define. In many areas of my life I have achieved certain successes, but I’m still not where I want to be.

    I don’t look at success as a destination. It’s not a one-time thing that you reach. You have small successes along the way to your full progression and potential.

    I agree though that too many companies and individuals focus on the wrong things when it comes to ‘success’.

    1. “Small success leads to Big Success” maybe? 🙂

      Thanks for the comment Dan. Congratulations on your recent “success” with the new job that hopefully gives you the time and allows you to do the things you love to do.

  6. Having been on the screwed side of the equation of those who were willing to be successful at all costs, and then watching how things play out to those whose definitions of ethical behavior are more fluid than the definition in this post, I think I can safely say that I don’t care much for that brand of success.

    In a book I read about money and neurology they found that the idea of making money releases the same kind of endorphins as cocaine – actually making money doesn’t do much on a neurological level. I enjoy taking on new projects and challenging myself to accomplish things and seeing what I learn a lot more than accomplishing some goal and checking it off my list.

    1. It does suck to be on the “screwed” side. To me, money is a means to an end. Yes, it’s important to have money so you can support yourself and a family, but the obsession with money is where people & companies lose track.

      The question I have for you: How can a company avoid that “obsession” or get out of it if they’ve fallen in to the over obsession with money matrix?

  7. Many thoughts do come to mind here, so although a short post, great job on making it thought provoking. Here is my take: I have passed on opportunities that would have made me triple what I do now (and I feel I do pretty ok as is) and for me success is all about the time that I get with my family.

    Everyone is different. Some people WANT to go into work and become a powerful CEO or president of a MAJOR corporation. ALL they think about is money and power, but that is just not me. I would rather have family time, and time for me and if I have a business that allows me to do that – I have achieved success!

    So again, it really depends on the person. Is it wrong or not successful for someone who wants the above stuff I mentioned? Not at all. That is success – so I hope you see what I am saying. If you are happy, is it legal, if you can sleep at night and most importantly if if allows you to do what YOU WANT … you are successful in my book.

    1. Thanks for the comment Matt! I agree 100%. Success is about “time” and how one chooses to manage it.

      I do feel that “shady tactics” may make a company some “quick cash” – but the long term value and business relationship that is built (or not built) will cost a potentially REALLY successful company.

      I read an article in USAToday that was a valuable reminder:

      The best way to get new business is to stay in touch with old customers. So it’s time to make sure you have an ongoing plan to contact and retain former clients.

      As hard as companies work — and as much money as companies spend — to find and attract new customers, it’s amazing how little most businesses do to stay in touch with those they once served so well. Many have the attitude that “once a job is done, it’s done; once a product is sold, it’s sold,” and the relationship with the customer is over.

      Keep in mind: it’s cheaper to keep a customer than to acquire a customer. In fact, estimates are it costs anywhere from two to 40 times as much to attract a new client than to retain one. How much money do you spend on advertising, networking, trade shows? All that money devoted to getting customers. So once you’ve got them, don’t lose touch with them.

      To me, business success is about on-going relationships that just get better with time.

      Thanks for our friendship and all the tips and tricks you share with me.

  8. Being able to pay your bills while doing something you love, you are lucky. Doing something you aren’t in LOVE with, but allows you to pay bills and do extra things that you love and spend time with those that you love also good!

    1. That’s a good perspective. We can’t always have the “dream job” where we’re doing ONLY what we love. But as long as we have time to do the things we love and still make ends meet, that’s at least something.

      What are your thoughts on the business ethics side of “success”?