Leading Ideas: Aim for More Than Success

At a recent dinner with a long standing client he reflected on the pride he felt for what his team had been able to achieve over the last year. Under his stewardship they had realized a market leading position in a very competitive niche. Never wanting to miss an opportunity to glean wisdom from success, I asked him what he felt drove their strong performance. I loved his answer. He said, "I've come to realize that success doesn't inspire people. Doing something meaningful does. The two are so closely related that people get them mixed up. We didn't create something successful here. We created something meaningful - and success was a natural outgrowth."

Consider This:

Deeply rewarding success cannot be pursued directly. It's the byproduct of a genuine & relentless pursuit to bring about something good in the world. This isn't a moral position. It's merely what works. Chasing success directly (i.e. because you want to be successful) doesn't work because it's like chasing a mirage. There's no substance behind it. When you get close to what you thought you wanted, it isn't what you'd imagined. So you start the pursuit again, but the same thing keeps happening. However, when you work for something because it's good - not just because it stands a chance to succeed - you short-circuit this dance. You don't wait to find fulfillment somewhere in the distance, you swim in it every day. And lo and behold success shows up on its own.

Try This:

  1. Think about the places in your life where you spend the most time and effort.
  2. Do you feel engaged in bringing about something truly good in these areas?
  3. If not, what feels missing?
  4. What steps have you taken in the past to close that gap?
  5. Where more can you do now?

"Work for something because it is good, not just because it stands a chance to succeed."
-- Vaclav Havel (1936 - ) Former President of Czechoslovakia & the Czech Republic

Doug Sundheim is an organizational consultant and coach based in NYC -http://www.clarityconsulting.com

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