Have you heard the saying success breeds success? Do you feel successful? Would you like to be more successful?
Success is one of the most elusive mirages of the modern era. There are 1000s of books and articles espousing how to get more of it - touted like the ancient elixir of life, it is meant to hold the promise of eternal happiness. YouTube and other social media adverts tout the next greatest, quickest, easiest and surest way to get to this amazing place.
Success is meant to give meaning to life to the point where one could be swayed to believe it is the very reason for living. There is, obviously, more to life, although looking at the rapid growth of the success/self-help industry it is easy to see the appetite people have to find success. (Quick disclaimer here - from where I am sitting in my lounge I am surrounded by more than 350 self-help and improvement books with about as many in my office.)
What exactly is success? My favourite definition comes from an article by Earl Nightingale. "The best definition of success I've ever found goes like this, 'success is the progressive realisation of a worthy goal'. Or in some cases the pursuit of a worthy ideal.
"It's a beautiful definition of success. It means that anyone who's on course toward the fulfillment of a goal is successful."
It has taken me a number of years to realise that life is a journey not a destination. We are here to enjoy the journey of life and, I believe, to make the journey enjoyable for others.
Ever witnessed a kid in the build up to Christmas or a birthday? The energy, the focus on the big day, the chatter and conversation - it's all quite infectious! What about that same kid at the end of Christmas when they have effectively reached their goal? Is the passion and energy still there?
The same thing can happen in business. Everyone is focused on a goal: an order that has to go out/ a sales target/ a new system implemented etc. We meet the goal and we breathe a huge sigh of relief, pat each other on the back and then focus on the next goal. This is a common pattern.
When I was selling I had this mindset. I was focused on the monthly sales goal. One day I got off the phone and announced to my boss I had secured my largest order and then proceeded to start dialing my next customer. He stopped me and insisted I enjoy the moment. Initially it felt just plain weird. He explained that celebrating wins along the way, savouring moments and reflecting is actually what makes life fun and enjoyable.
Getting to the end of the month and hitting the target is great but then you start next month at zero and start again - it risks becoming a rat wheel. Do you look for opportunities to celebrate small wins? Ring a bell with every sale, shout pizza for meeting the week's goal, enjoy a round of go-karts or 10-pin bowls and create memorable moments.
These celebrations can release the four primary chemicals in the brain that affect happiness: dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin and endorphins. This makes the moment more enjoyable and the desire to feel that way again stronger.
What small wins could you celebrate with your team?
• Mike Clark is director and lead trainer and facilitator at Think Right business training company.