So How Do YOU Define Success? The Answer Might Surprise You!

I recently had the pleasure of attending a Vistage presentation led by Bill Hawkins on success. As with many a Vistage presentation, I started this one off a little arrogant and close-minded (as I can be from time to time) thinking, “Oh great! Another leadership guy telling me – a successful leadership coach – what I need to know about being a successful leader…” Well, I guess I was right because boy did I have a lot to learn!

The presentation was actually much less of a presentation than individual activity with group sharing. Bill gave us a deck of custom cards – he actually calls it the CEO Personal Success DeckTM – that had various words defining potential areas we might use to define our life’s success. If I would have completed this task even a few years ago, I’m confident I would have responded with the not-too-uncommon American dream of “stuff” – including money, fame, fortune, great professional accomplishments, etc. While all of that may still be on my list somewhere, I was amazed that it was much further down than I ever would have expected. Instead, my final 7 were a complete surprise. 

I suppose I’m finally showing some signs of maturity because my final list now is:

  • Financial Security
  • Close friends
  •  Love
  • Happiness
  • Achievement
  • Fulfilling Spouse relationship
  • Physical health

Now I’ve learned through some recent life experiences that my work doesn’t make me. Don’t get me wrong… I do love my work, and when things are going well it truly feeds my soul. This summer, I put my work on hold a bit though while my son endured a grueling experience with a broken toe and staph infection that required not just 5 days in the hospital but also 30 more days of intravenous antibiotics administered by either his mother or me. Not how I planned to spend my summer, and it was a no brainer to be with him in the hospital – which meant canceling a trip to San Francisco that week.

I’ve also learned recently that no matter how much I love to travel or go to rock concerts or insert activity here, it’s oftentimes more important to be fiscally responsible. And maybe more enlightening than that, I’ve learned it can be almost as rewarding to pass on those sometimes costly activities knowing that I’m being responsible and saving my money instead. It’s kind of like not having that bowl of ice cream for dessert knowing that I’m prioritizing my longer-term health rather than giving into my shorter-term sweet tooth temptations.

So how do you define success? Is it your career? Your relationships? Simply being complete with what you do have rather than focusing on what’s left that you don’t? I assure you your success will not come from working a few extra hours at work each week. Your success won’t come from buying that bigger house or faster car either. Ultimately, you need to focus your energy and resources, including both time and money, in the areas that are most important to you. I guess I just needed Bill’s help to figure out what that is for me.

For more information on this powerful visioning and grounding activity, feel free to contact Bill Hawfield yourself. I’m sure he’d be happy to walk you and your organization through it too!

Posted in Bill Hawkins, CEO, Leadership, Priorities, success, Vistage International, Work, Work/Life Balance

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