I’m 100% sure he doesn’t remember giving me this advice. Not the first time, let alone the second or third. What does success look like to you. Arko van Brakel, a Dutch entrepreneur I admire, asked me this question two years ago. He repeated it in a radio interview a while back in a more direct way:
You should define what succes looks like to you.
He’s right for many reasons.
#1 Success isn’t a universal thing.
Only you can decide for yourself what success is for you.
While traveling I’ve seen businessmen making seven figure incomes, working 18 hour days, being miserable with no time to enjoy any of their hard earned success in Singapore. And I’ve seen children owning only one set of clothes, playing, laughing, dancing and sharing everything they have, despite being surrounded by violence, crime and racial indifferences in Cape Town.
Success comes in many forms.
#2 It’s not about money
Owning a certain amount of money makes things easier. For sure. But it doesn’t define success.
Don’t believe me? Picture someone who you think is extremely unfriendly. Right now. Got someone in mind? Now mentally give him or her a million dollars. Is (s)he successful now?
#3 It’s not about what others think
Success is usually linked to a more extraverted lifestyle. That extra status update on Facebook showing what you’ve got, what you’re doing, and what you’ve achieved. It’s a small step to mistake what success is to you, for what you perceive as being successful.
Success shouldn’t be measured by someone else’s response to your answer to the dreadful question: What do you do?
Another question that deserves an honest answer is: Would you enjoy what you do just as much, if you could only capture the story in your own paper notebook, without sharing it on social media?
#4 ‘Look’ means you can see it
What does success look like, forces you to visualize and see it. It makes it actionable and real.
Is it driving a black Ferrari? Is it enjoying sunset without having anything to rush off to? Is it owning a company with 100 employees? Is it traveling the world? Is it starting a family? Is it having a million+ followers on Instagram? Is it Sunday dinner with the people you love?
Be honest with yourself. And remember, it’s not for me —or anyone else— to judge.
#5 It’s applicable to all situations
So picture it. Visualize it. See it. What does success look like to you?
For today. Tomorrow. Your current or next project. This year. Your life.
Before you do anything: Define what success looks like to you..