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OWNING OUR SUCCESS STARTS WITH DEFINING THE WORD


Owning a small business comes with quite a few perks, one being the opportunity to be a part of the small business community. So, any time I am asked to present or instruct a class about being a small business owner, I accept. At these events, I’m often asked one question I find I never have a solid answer to: “How did you become successful?”

Recently, I attended Entrepreneurs in Residence Retreat at the Edward Lowe Foundation’s Big Rock Valley (BRV) headquarters. The retreat is designed for business owners to unplug and reflect on their next step, an event that has jokingly been described as a “retreat about nothing.” The idea here is when you provide an entrepreneur space to explore and ground themselves in nature, amazing things begin taking effect. For me, this experience resulted in constructing a shift towards the way I see myself and shine my light. I felt empowered to be the best version of myself and couldn’t wait for what would transpire of my new approach. As the retreat came to an end, our exit interviews began. The interviewer's first question was “How did you become so successful?” Almost immediately, I blurted out, “How do you even know I am successful? What is success anyway?” The interviewer is probably still, today, trying to comprehend my startling response, but I know exactly what it was that prompted my response.


I was dimming my light because I have never seen myself quite as successful.


As I climbed into my car, I began racking my brain. “What will occur when I actually see myself as successful? What does that even look like, and how will I maintain it?” As I drove home, I continued thinking about my response and the questions I had for myself. So here, I present to you how I have reframed success in my own mind, and finally arrived at a place where I can answer that question, next time, with the confidence that interviewer might have been expecting. Let me explain with just a few steps.


Step #1: First, One Must Define Success

Determine what success means to you. If you don’t, how will you ever know you have arrived upon it. For me, success is achieved when someone is presented the opportunity to live freely and design the life that is destined for them. Pay attention to when you feel happiest, then over beyond the material part of that happiness and seek the experience that lies beneath it. “Beneath” will generate the success factor.


Money is often the answer that people offer when questioned “What makes a person successful?”, but what does money provide that ensures happiness? Does money really provide us freedom, perhaps? Maybe you want to buy a yacht, but why? Is it because you want to give your family and friends a certain experience? A fun exercise that can assist with getting to the fundamental motivating factor is something I call “Nested Why’s”. Write the first thing that comes to mind when you’re asked, “What does success look like to you?” Then, ask “Why is that important?” Re-approach this question until your answer can’t be broken down anymore. The final answer - that is how you personally define success.


Step #2: Now Develop a Plan

Now that your version of success is defined, get creative and work backwards. Ask yourself, “What do I need to do to achieve my goal?” If you aren’t currently in a place to execute that step, write down the step that you need to take before that one, and so on. Continue this process until you have a list of steps that meet you where you are at presently. Some steps may be lateral moves, but that’s okay as long as the steps are moving you toward your defined version of success.


Step #3: Build Your Team for the Journey

Compose a team around you to accomplish your plan for success. Identify steps you require assistance in to move forward, seek out those who share your same values. Your team may not fully understand your vision for success, but they must respect the values that define it. When you build a team with these same values, they can work within their natural state. This is where we all achieve the happiness that success brings. As a person that genuinely enjoys plans and spreadsheets and working through steps, I felt obligated to share the steps that assisted me thru my journey. This brings me back to my response to the unceasing question of “How did I become successful?


The simple truth is, I have become successful by consistently being a caring, effective listener. Through understanding and valuing people, I find I am the happiest. I also find I am able to provide my clients the best service, from paying close attention to what matters to them, but more importantly why it matters. I listen to people to hear them, not to respond. Since being heard and understood is important to all of us, I’m able to remind people they are important to me by being an active listener. People find this immensely valuable and have become successful through this avenue.


This has led to prosperous relationships not only in my business, but also in my life, and I would not have been able to discover this prosperity without digging in to define my success!

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