In a recent coaching session a client and I discussed success. The client has a profitable business, a loving family and a great group of friends, yet they still didn’t consider themselves as being successful. He mentioned to me how he feels that ‘he hadn’t made it just yet’. When I asked him how he’ll know when he’s got there he simply looked at me, shrugged his shoulders and wasn’t sure how to respond.
It made me think about how I’ve been in that same situation years ago. I was comparing myself to other people, reflecting on what I’d done and what I hadn’t, and most of the time I’d feel less-than. Less than friends who had senior titles or who had accomplished more in life. Less than others who were high earners or had better social lives.
That’s when I asked myself what success actually meant to me. How would I measure my own success?
I believe that success has a very subjective definition. When I now think of success, particularly at work I think about what is important in my life. And in practice that means that:
- Success is not about me. It’s about me trying to do things so that I can empower others. It’s about doing work that has both personal and social meaning. This is what also led me to start our coach training programmes. What I do is focused on and about other people and I want it to be that way.
- Success is not something that I can entirely control. I can work hard and be ambitious but my success is also dependent on being in the right place at the right time. It means being in a position where I have positive and supportive relationships. It’s not entirely dependent on how many hours I work or clients I bill – other people also contribute to my success.
- Success is not about a final goal. Even for my business I don’t do long term strategies. I don’t think about where I want to be in 5 years’ time from now because I might (and I’m sure I will) be a very different person. Of course there’s some administrative and operational planning that is required in the short to medium term. However I don’t hold these plans too tightly. Doing so might take me away from what I value, what’s important to me and what I might feel works better for the business at a particular time.
- Success is enjoying what I am currently doing rather than chasing an end product. I regularly ask myself, ‘am I happy with what I’m doing?’ What matters to me is the process. The actual doing, and enjoying the doing is vital to how I view success. I’m successful in being able to engage in work that I find value in. I’m successful in being able to work with inspirational people and clients whose insight, support and courage motivate me even further. I’m successful not when I get to the finish line but by recognising the small achievements that happen along the way.
Now this is just my view of what success means to me. Have you spent some quality time thinking about what success means to you? What’s your own measure of success?
We have supported many coaches obtain their ICF Credentials through our ICF Diploma in Integrative Coaching. Coaches have shared how we have helped not only their development into ICF Coaches but also supported them explore, discover and grow their own self-awareness bringing a truly holistic development.