Redefine Success

The accomplishment of an aim or purpose.

One of my favorite TED talks is by Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage. In his talk, Achor talks about how the average person believes if they work harder, they will be more successful. Greater success then leads to more happiness. The problem with this view of happiness is that as each milestone of “success” is reached, the goal moves and happiness is never really achieved because happiness is always on the opposite side of success. Achor proposes that this is backwards to how our brains actually work and that our brains perform better when we are happy; that we will actually achieve greater success when we are already happy.

Think about an experience you may have had with a sales person. What did they act like? What was ultimately the outcome? I would be willing to bet that happier sales people will show a greater number of sales than someone who seems very unhappy, irritable, or rude. In this situation, how do you define success? Does success mean the sales team made the most number of sales, or does it mean the sales team has higher customer satisfaction? How you define success will, ultimately, impact your approach.

As Winston Churchill so wisely stated, “success is not final; failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” So your goal was 10% growth in sales over prior year, but you only achieved 5% growth. You may consider that a failure in that you didn’t reach the target, but what if your customer satisfaction also increased during that time. And what if, after reviewing the prior year, you determined there were some new strategies to try, new markets to tap, or new suppliers to use. Learning from the “failure” may be a bigger success than blindly hitting a target if you can continue on stronger than before.

Would you like me to give you a formula for success? It's quite simple, really: Double your rate of failure. You are thinking of failure as the enemy of success. But it isn't at all. You can be discouraged by failure or you can learn from it, so go ahead and make mistakes. Make all you can. Because remember that's where you will find success."

-- Thomas J. Watson

About the Author
Amanda Bullock is a consultant with Morrison, working primarily in our Business & Accounting Advisory practice. To get in touch with Amanda, please find contact information for Morrison here.


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