Being on the road to success

A friend from the US sent me this quote from Oprah Winfrey recently:

“You know you are on the road to success if you would do your job, and not be paid for it”


It got me thinking. What does the road to success look like for me? What does it look like for other people? Is it…

  • Money
  • Power
  • Position
  • Personal comfort
  • Prestige
  • Happiness
  • A big office…

On one of the many blogs that I follow “Method leadership”, Michael J posted something recently on a similar theme: Why Lead? In fact many of the reasons above were listed by Michael as being factors on why people lead. This made me wonder if you are a leader and have these things, then does it then follow that you are successful?

According to the English Oxford dictionary, success can be defined as:

  • the accomplishment of an aim or purpose:the president had some success in restoring confidence
  • the attainment of fame, wealth, or social status:the success of his play
  • [count noun] a person or thing that achieves desired aims or attains fame, wealth, etc.:to judge from league tables, the school is a success. I must make a success of my business

Obviously I can’t speak for anyone other than myself, but success for me isn’t about how I am perceived by others. Fame, wealth, social status doesn’t do it for me. I get a sense of success, of accomplishment when I have achieved something I perceive to be challenging, worthwhile. This in turn makes me happy.

As a leader, I would also hope that my successes have something to do with the people I lead. In effect, I am successful, if my team is successful. As they develop and grow, I feel pride in their accomplishments, in their successes.

While doing research on this subject, I came across a post on LinkedIn by Jeff Haden. This post talks about happiness being an indicator of success. The best definition of success is the one you never use. It also talks about trade offs in business and how typically people who are classed as being successful have had to trade off time in their personal lives etc to achieve this “success”. I really liked this point:

If you’re making serious money but are unhappy on a personal level, you haven’t embraced the fact that incredible business success often takes a heavy toll on relationships. Other things are clearly important to you besides just making money.

He also says:

Defining success is important, but taking a clear-eyed look at the impact of your definition matters even more. As in most things your intent is important but the results provide the real answers.

If helping others through social work is your definition of success, you may make a decent living but you won’t get rich… and you must embrace that fact. If you’re happy, you have.

I also found a post in by Eric V. Holtzclaw which made me think even further. Do you know your true definition of success. It defines success in several ways:

  • Jobs created – lives touched
  • Money made
  • World changed
  • Opportunities afforded
  • It’s about the journey

It’s the last point that I really identified with:

Entrepreneurs really don’t like to make it to the goal, because once we do we are looking for the next climb. All too often we focus too much on “making it” and don’t take the time to enjoy the journey. It’s in the journey and the creation that an entrepreneur is truly the happiest. This we must all be reminded of often.

I think the same is true of leaders and trainers, or at least of me. As well as of making it to the goal – and then the next (which all leaders try to do), think of developing / encouraging a person or member of your team. In my humble opinion, no-one is ever a finished product. Once I’ve finished one training course, once I’ve developed a person to the point that they are ready for the next role, I start again, encouraging and developing them (or someone else) to the next point on their journey. I’m successful when the next milestone is reached and I’m happy when they are growing.

In summary, and having thought about it probably way too much, I feel that I am on the road to success. I am happy in what I am doing, in the path my career is taking. When I view my team and their successes, I also feel successful. I’ve achieved most of the goals that I wanted to achieve (though not always on the first attempt) and I’ve learned from the mistakes that I have made. I will never be Steve Jobs, but I don’t want to be!

I’d love to know your thoughts on this one! Are you successful? What would make you successful?

Alesandra Blakeston

road to success (Medium)

8 thoughts on “Being on the road to success

  1. Hi Alesandra,

    I enjoyed this post and appreciate the reference. If I may be permitted, I’d like to reference two more of my own posts, which are relevant and may be useful in the context of your post.

    The first, which puts me in absolute agreement with Jeff Haden, is here: Success is absolutely measured in happiness.

    The second is here:

    It pertains to this line in your post: “As a leader, I would also hope that my successes have something to do with the people I lead. In effect, I am successful, if my team is successful. As they develop and grow, I feel pride in their accomplishments, in their successes.”

    Teams really only work well when each team members’ success (and that includes the leader or leaders) is inextricably linked with the team’s success as a whole. I just love the old Musketeer oath – “One for all and all for one”. I like to put it this way: In the best teams, you are the team and the team is you.

    Cheers, Alesandra. I enjoy your work and look forward to your posts.



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