Does your job title define how successful you are?
I recently heard a talk from Seth Godin (I’m a big fan!) about how a friend of his had taken over a decade to sell his family business. The reason he had taken so long was not because he couldn’t find a buyer or an offer at a fair price, but because he couldn’t define who he was without his company. He felt as though his job title defined him and, without it, he was lost. He had forgotten that he was also a father, a friend, a husband, an entrepreneur. He was still all those things without his company, though. So why did he feel that he would be no one once he was no longer “the boss”? This struck a chord at a time when my own professional life is at a turning point.
What’s in a job title?
What makes you successful? Is it your job title, a promotion you have been after for a long time, a big check at the end of every month? Once you reach that level, will you feel successful then? Or will you want more? Human nature means that we are never satisfied with the status quo and are constantly striving for more. And usually that “more” is defined by external status measures.
Is the CEO who has just fired 200 employees and sold off half of his company more successful than the cleaning lady who makes each client feel special? Or the receptionist who knows each client by name and smiles, asking how they are every morning?
How do you define success?
How do you define success and who is more successful? Or is success so much more than that? Is success a feeling of fulfillment, a feeling of happiness? This opens a whole new spectrum as to how you define yourself as successful. Ultimately, success is what brings you happiness and fulfillment in life. Family, friends, children, hobbies, sports, art are all fair game in defining your success.
Professionally then, a promotion, a big salary or a fancy title can give you external validation. But will they truly make you happy? I remember one of my friends telling me that she didn’t feel any better or more satisfied professionally after fighting for a promotion to VP for several years. Conversely, another friend of mine who left the corporate world and ended up finding a passion working in real estate said to me “I want to win at life!”. Too right, so do I!
So, ask yourself whether you feel excited about your day ahead when you wake up every morning. Are you truly passionate about the work that you do? Are you making a difference to someone or having a positive impact on the world, however small that difference is? That is what will make you feel happy and fulfilled. And that is ultimately what will make you successful so that you win at life!