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The Purposeful Entrepreneur

What is Success? Define it with The Success Sweet Spot

April 23, 2020

By Mariana

Success.

What is it?

How do you know when you have it?

So many people start out because they want “success.” 

In my experience, most entrepreneurs dive headlong into the deep waters of business, without a thought to what success is or isn’t, and how they’ll know when they are successful.

People burn out, bankrupt their lives or drain their bank accounts while chasing somebody else’s idea of success.

What is success? The usual suspects

There are several ways society and the media portray success. 

Most of them involve one or more of the following: 

Money

We’ve all seen the pictures of a Lamborghini parked in front of a big house used to illustrate success.

Money as success.

Often this is used by somebody trying to look successful rather than somebody who is truly successful. 

I don’t blame anybody for thinking money = success.

The booming messages with success tied to how much money is in your bank account, how many commas you have or how many figures you’re bringing in each month are deafening.

Don’t get me wrong. Money is necessary.

Having a financially viable business is essential. Otherwise, a business can quickly become an expensive hobby. 

Profitability is an indicator of success, but shouldn’t define it.

Reach 

This a new one that has cropped up in the age of social media.

I get it, and it’s easy to look at somebody with a huge following and jump to the conclusion that they’re ‘successful.’

This is flawed for so many reasons, but let’s just imagine their account getting disabled 😲

If the size of the following is what determines success, then you can lose it overnight or buy followers to create it.

Repeat after me, “My success and worth are not determined by followers or likes.”

Recognition

Often success is tied to a perceived nod that we’ve done the thing, checked a box or crossed a finish line.

Accolades and awards are other forms of recognition often used to determine success.

When we don’t value ourselves, we can hinge our success on the acknowledgment of a person or organization.

This gives our capacity to be successful away, as it hangs our success on other people acknowledging our achievements or worth. 

An example of this is deciding that you’ll be successful when a high profile conference books you as a paid keynote speaker.

Imagine you have inspired and changed the lives of thousands of people on stages around the world. You have built a profitable business doing so but haven’t had that high profile speaking gig.

Would that mean you’re a failure?

I say it would be a failure not to recognize your wins.

Acknowledgment is nice, but waiting for it to be “successful” can dim your light.

Shine on!

Power

Similar to the other success measures above, this puts your success outside of your control. For even with power, it’s often an illusion of control. 

Although there is some change in society, there is still an undertone of who has power over whom. 

Some people use how much control they can exert over others as a measure of success.

Those are not my people. 

If those aren’t your people too, let’s continue.

It’s time to expand the concept of success beyond these classic measures. 

If somebody has buckets of money and fame, but they haven’t taken care of themselves, or their life is in shambles, are they successful? 

If you think “yes,” then this probably isn’t the right article for you. 

If you’re ready to consider a more in-depth definition of success, keep reading.

Still with me? Good.

Introducing The Success Sweet Spot

Have you ever seen a video of a dog chasing its tail?

Now you have, so we’re all on the same page.

It’s like they’re so busy with the chase that they don’t stop to consider what they’re chasing.

Have you ever found yourself using somebody else’s measuring stick to define whether you are successful or not? 

That’s the success tail.

I hate to admit it, but I’ve been guilty of chasing my own tail before.

It’s time to stop going in circles.

I want to invite you to define what success means for YOU. 

It’s as unique to each of us as our fingerprints are.

The Success Sweet Spot is found at the intersection of Business, Life and Self.

Success Sweet Spot 

As entrepreneurs, we can become laser-focused on our businesses. 

Sure, you need to focus, but there has been a tendency in the past to assume that Self and Life will take care of themselves later.

How does it feel when you read that? 

Have you ever experienced this or watched it play out for somebody else?

If you’re building a business and the cost is your health or the relationships with the people you love, are you genuinely succeeding?

What if you spend all your time being everything for everyone, focused purely on Self and Life (your family), how is there time or space for you to invest what it takes to have a profitable business?

Finally, if you’re operating from Life and Business, your focus may be on growing a business and raising a family. However, if without Self in the equation, then you’ve got a one-way ticket to burn out. 

Now, do you see why we need to factor in these three spheres?

Good. Let’s take a closer look at each of the areas that make up your Success Sweet Spot.

Self

Taking care of yourself isn’t selfish.

It is one of the most generous things you can do. 

I know that sounds counterintuitive but stick with me.

Each of us has what I like to call minimum system requirements

A computer must have a certain amount of memory and processing power to run the programs we need. 

We also do not operate at peak or even base levels, if our minimum system requirements are not met.

In terms of Self, your minimum system requirements might include two walks outside weekly, a morning coffee enjoyed in peace and meditating three times a week.

Here are the areas that fall under Self: health & well-being, fulfillment, joy, and alignment with your core values.

Now you may be thinking that you have no idea what you need. That’s okay.

In my experience, most of us don’t.

In general, we chug along without reflecting on our overall state of being.

We may notice that we feel more energized one day and completely drained another, but don’t take the time to figure out why.

I want to challenge you to pay attention to what energizes you to figure out the minimum system requirements that support the best version of yourself.

Life

Here the areas to consider in the Life sphere: family, friends, experiences, community and giving.

Now when you look at this list, what are the basic things that you need to make time and space for?

Yes, you need to make time and space for them.

The truth is they will never fit if you don’t intentionally create and guard space for them.

For example, if you are single, maybe it’s that you take your dog for a hike on weekends, have dinner with your parents twice a week and volunteer at a local community centre twice a month. 

If you have a family, it could be that you pick your kids up at school at the end of the day, you’re available to help coach soccer, and you disconnect on weekends to be fully present with your family. 

It’s a little different for everybody, but for each of us, when we show up in Life for our family, friends and community we again, are operating as the best version of ourselves.

Business

This is a big one.

I intentionally left it to the end because we often don’t factor Self and Life into the success equation.

If you aren’t taking care of Self and Life, are you really being successful?

A tricky little trap to note here is that we’ll often justify neglecting Self and Life as the sacrifice needed to get ahead. 

This is false. 

It’s part of a story we’ve been fed for years and one that can cost you your health and relationships. 

Most of us have bought into social narratives about success without questioning them.

The truth is that if you don’t factor Self and Life in from the start, they usually get squeezed out.

Business success that costs too much.

The Business sphere includes purpose, vision, integrity, sustainability, impact and value.

There’s a reason that you chose to go down the rabbit hole of entrepreneurship instead of getting a job. 

For most people, the path of entrepreneurship was meant to lead to a place of flexibility and freedom.

However, this is often the opposite of their reality.

I call this Accidental Entrepreneurship

Accidental Entrepreneurship refers to forms of working on or in your business that start out with good intentions. Harmless hard work that quickly leads to entrenched bad habits and feeling trapped in a self-imposed rat race.

Yes, you read that correctly. SELF-IMPOSED.

This is your business, which means you are the one who is creating the situations you find yourself in. 

Ouch. 

That can be a tough one to take in.

Do not fret, friend. 

The good news is that as the architect and boss of your business, you have the power to make changes.

A few final thoughts on success

Real-life isn’t a pretty Venn diagram.

The circles are nicely aligned and balanced in the diagram, but is that what life looks like? 

No, and that’s okay. 

Success as a single person in their 20s will be different for the same individual in their 60s.

Success needs space and grace, to grow and shift.

Our experiences and circumstances shape our definition of success and our ability to be successful. 

Allow for a fluid and flexible Success Sweet Spot.

Here’s the big one.

Are you ready?

Success isn’t a destination.

It’s a way of being in the world.

The Success Sweet Spot is a space we strive to occupy and exemplify as we live our lives and grow our businesses.

Focus on being successful versus being a success.

When you’ve figured out your Success Sweet Spot, and operating purposefully, you’ll experience less trade-off and more sweetness.

Welcome to Success on Purpose.

Hi, I'm Mariana.

Hi, I'm Mariana.

As you've probably guessed already, I'm the heart and brains behind The Purposeful Entrepreneur.

Supporting entrepreneurs and business owners while teaching and sharing lessons learned brings me joy.

I love family time and do what I can to make the world a better place.

I'm very fond of coffee and puns. I strive to live life to its fullest, grow a little bit every single day, and inspire others along the way.

How I can help you...

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