Your ability as a leader to build a great business is wholly dependent upon your ability to engage successful people. But do you really know what success looks like?
Can Only A Few Be Successful?
As a leader have you ever considered how important it is for your team members to feel successful? Not just as a team but as individuals.
What does success actually look like in your business and for your team members? Is it about profit, achieving sales targets, working within budgets, meeting project timelines or some other metric? Is it anything that would actually motivate someone to commit themselves completely to the tasks at hand? Or is even mentioning something like that, ‘commitment’ that is, more like a joke? You know, ‘Get out of here, who would ever commit themselves to a place like this? We’re just in it for the money and because we have no other real choice.’
Sadly, this is probably the reality for many employees and the places in which they work. Success is exclusive and reserved for a few at the top. It is shared down the line so people can feel good, but not everyone can be successful. Otherwise, how would the people at the top get there?
Have you ever heard the expression ‘success is the fuel of life’? And an even more challenging statement, ‘Anyone can craft a life of enduring success’? Both are true. Now pause for a moment and imagine how great your business could become if most of the people who worked with you were ‘achievers’, people who are always successful.
As a leader, if you could craft an environment, which made people believe in their success, wouldn’t that just be amazing! Well, it is possible and it starts with you.
Acceptance Of A Lesser Life
Author Mark Chussil in his article on HBR.org, ‘Don’t Spend Your Life Making Up Your Mind’, recounts his journey in deciding whether he wanted to stay at a former place of employment
‘Long ago I worked at a job I didn’t enjoy. It wasn’t a bad job; it was secure and pleasant. I was a success, but the job just wasn’t fulfilling in the ways I wanted. I spent my spare time tinkering with the simulations, research, and writing that still fascinate me. And the more I tinkered, the more I chafed at my job.’
And then one day someone challenged him and asked, ‘Then why don’t you quit your job and do what you want instead?’
I am sure most of us can relate to this question personally, and have probably given it as a response to friends and colleagues who we have listened to complaining about their work. And there are many reasons why staying feels like a better decision than leaving. I’m guessing but I suspect that it is the few who answer with ‘Yes, I am quitting and moving on’. And it is many that just stay and continued to be ‘chafed’ by their job.
There are many reasons why someone would choose the lesser life and stay.
I explore this, in an extract taken from my book, ‘Achieve – Creating A Life of Enduring Success’, below:
‘There are many barriers to success, including:
- We are and have been actively encouraged throughout our lives to not try, to not chase and to not seek to achieve.
- To believe first in our own inability, not capability.
- We have been burnt and have seen others burnt through failure and now hesitate.
- Settling for average is often the path of least resistance and a compliant choice.
- We simply do not have the self-confidence to try and there is no one around us to encourage us forward.
- Our obligations, duties and responsibilities as providers do not allow us to pursue what we would really like to do.
- If you grow too tall, you will be cut down – tall poppy syndrome.
- We lack imagination and the passion that it brings and simply do not know where to start.’
As a leader seeking to build a great business, do you believe you can build that business alongside people who have chosen to stay with you because they feel they have no other choice? The answer is, hopefully, ‘no’ because you would prefer people who are passionate and committed.
But the question then is, how do you create the eco-system that will attract and grow these types of people?
Remember also, your team may well have been full of passion and energy when they first joined the business, but your eco-system has bled them dry.
Money Doesn’t Always Help
In Chussil’s article above, he references the life of Huntington Hartford who died in 2008. Journalist Suzanna Andrews wrote a good review of Hartford’s life in an article for Vanity Fair, titled ‘Hostage To Fortune’.
A quick snapshot of Huntington Hartford’s life is:
- He was one of the richest men in America and heir to the Great Atlantic & Pacific (A&P) Tea Company empire, which was, in its heyday, the second largest corporation in the world after General Motors.
- In 1917 when his grandfather died, Hartford, aged six at the time, was left with an annual income of $1.5 million.
- His father was one of three sons and the only son who refused to work in the family business. He was a concert violinist, and inventor, but making money was a concept he disdained. Interestingly, the Hartford Trusts skipped a generation and his father and mother were not beneficiaries to the family fortune.
- Hartford did work for his uncles in the family business for a short period of time but they eventually sacked him from the clerical position they assigned to him as they felt he was undisciplined.
- He lived a ‘jet-set’ life and invested in many artistic ventures that failed, depleting his wealth.
- Unable to find peace and at various stages addicted to drugs, his life progressively deteriorated.
- He died at 97 years of age, having been ‘rescued’ by his daughter of his third marriage, Juliet, who nursed him back to health in the Bahamas until his passing.
- During his lifetime, he lost the fortune that had been built by two generations of the family before him. In his words, ‘I had money. I didn’t need to make money’.
- In his earlier days, Hartford sought recognition, respect and fame. He put his name on many institutions that he built that then crumbled. When asked in his final years how he would like people to remember him, he said, ‘I don’t care about any of that. I’m very happy now’.
There are many other stories of people coming into wealth and being placed in a position that many would envy, but ultimately living a life that few would want.
Chussil makes the following observation about wealth in his article: ‘In our culture, “What are you worth?” is a question about your finances and utility, not your character. To be a “success” means you have more at the end than you did at the start. We say “you can’t take it with you” but we behave and judge as though you can.’
Wealth, position and power are our default measures of success, but they are measures that render the majority of the people in our community void of success and disempowered. They are measures that render their potential contribution to your business inert. You need to define success in a manner that empowers.
The Power of Success
Building a great business founded in people who are successful, starts with attitude, and attitude is everything.
‘Attitude is how you view yourself and the world around you. It is a reflection of your self-image – the picture created in your subconscious that influences your entire world and all that happens in it.’
As a leader, you have a critical role in crafting that self-image within your team; each and every one of them individually. And if you get this right you are on the path to unleashing the power of success in your business – a fuel, an enabler, a renewable resource within every individual in your business.
‘Success is the fuel of life. It energises and enlivens us. Without success, our lives can become dull and then dead.
Without success as a catalyst in our lives, we will not and cannot reach our potential. Striving for success is an enabler. It draws our best to the surface and allows us to see what we are really capable of achieving.
Success comes from within. Only we can make ourselves successful through our beliefs, thoughts and actions. Success cannot be given to you by others.
Success is a renewable resource. We can generate it every moment of every day and can bring an abundance to our lives that we never thought possible.
Enduring success is our prize to be claimed.’
(The above quotes are extracts from ‘Achieve – Creating A Life of Enduring Success‘.)
Champions Of Success In Your Business
To change the way your business thinks about success you need champions of success throughout your business at every level. These are not people who just talk about success but people who live it. Success percolating throughout your entire business will have a profound effect on performance in all respects.
Successful people already exist throughout your business, you just need to find them and unleash their power.
‘Successful people have an invaluable and critical leadership role (even though you may not see them as leaders, yet). They:
- Develop other people’s ability to be successful.
- Connect people with the organisation’s purpose and goals at the individual, team, corporate and community level.
- Lead by example and create a culture of success through being successful themselves.’
‘A successful person can be a light within a community or organisation. They:
- Do not rely upon others for their identity.
- Are open and strong and provide leadership.
- Understand the power of words and apply them accordingly.
- Adopt habits to reinforce their success.
- Grow and connect with other successful people.
- Give thanks and give to others.
- Are confident and never prideful or arrogant.’
The Sole Measure of Success
So if wealth, power and position are not the right measures of success, what is?
‘At the end of each day, you want to feel a real satisfaction in the effort you have put in and the rewards you have achieved. You want to feel an abundance within, a real joy and quiet knowing that you have worked hard for the rewards earnt. This is what achievement and being successful is all about.
I believe the real end sought is a freedom to pursue and achieve happiness in life. Society tells us to chase wealth as this will provide us with freedom, and the wealth can be spent on all the things that can deliver that happiness. But I don’t think any of us are silly enough to believe that wealth will, by itself, deliver a life of enduring happiness and success.
We really just want the freedom to do more of the things that give us joy. It sounds a bit corny in today’s society to say, “I just want to be happy.” But in all honesty, it is what our heart searches for and it’s why we ‘buy’ all the things in our life, as we think they will bring joy to us. And maybe they do for a fleeting moment. But enduring happiness comes from within and cannot be sold or purchased. It is created by you through the pursuit of a life of enduring success and is a renewable resource that comes from within and will become your fuel for life.
Are you comfortable with pursuing happiness in your life and openly saying, “This is what I want”?‘
(The above quotes are extracts from ‘Achieve – Creating A Life of Enduring Success’.)
Active Knowledge Questions:
Are the vast majority of people working within your business, at all levels, successful people?
If not, what are you doing to change that?
Not sure how to become an Achiever, someone who has a life of enduring success? Then read Achieve – Creating A Life of Enduring Success.
Need to lift the leadership performance in your business? Learn how in C88 – Leadership Performance Guide and Journal.
All the best in the success of your business,
(Photograph by Shannon Kelley, Austin, Texas, USA.)