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What is your definition of success?

adventurer looking at mountain

Success means different things for different people, and for different reasons. For some, the definition of success is simply to be happy, or to love your job. For others, it’s a good work-life balance or the ability to go on nice holidays. Sometimes it’s a combination of all of the above and more.

At the end of each episode of the Evolve to Succeed podcast, we ask guests what success looks like to them. Whatever the individual’s answer, “What is your definition of success?” is more often than not a question that creates a pause in the conversation as the guest reflects on their answer and sometimes even struggles to put their finger on what it is exactly. Defining success is apparently both simple and very complex; it changes according to our needs and circumstances, so what we call success today may not mean the same thing ten years from now.

Here’s a selection of some of the best definitions we’ve had of success from our podcast guests:

David Chamberlain – Director of Performance Climate System

“Success is about balance and positive relationships and interactions. You can attribute success to financial achievements and everything else, but for me I think it’s knowing that I might be juggling six balls but I’m quite relaxed about it, that it’s all going okay, and I’m not dropping any of the balls.”

Adam Maton – Founder of WeMove

“I think you’d be the exception not the rule if you built a really successful business just to have money. It’s never been the driver for me; I have ambitions to build something much bigger than WeMove but it’s not about building something bigger so that I can buy a bigger house or have a nicer car and go on nicer holidays. For me, success is about feeling happy and content, waking up each day and being engaged with what you’re doing.”

Skye Robertson – COO of Escape the City

“My personal definition of success is if I can, at the beginning and end of each day, say to myself that I am doing something that makes me feel happy and alive and that’s meeting my needs. Make sure that your definition of success is your own and that you live by that—I think that’s probably the bravest thing anyone can do in their life.”

Tom Mercer – Founder of Moma Foods

“Success is being fulfilled from a career point-of-view, which is about the combination of doing something that’s exciting and feels important, and is sufficiently financially rewarding to enable me and my family to have the opportunities that we want in life.”

Mike Bandar – Founding partner Turn Partners and the Enterprise Academy

“For me, success is defined by a cluster of things: making enough money, having a social impact, having fun, continuing to learn, adding value and, more recently, health and family time and social time have become an increasingly important part of that cluster.”

Erin Thomas Wong – Founder of the Mumpreneur Collective

“Success is definitely about having impact and knowing that what I’m doing is making a difference for other people. But also, of course, I want to be earning enough money to have a nice life that doesn’t mean sacrifice for my family or for the hours that I’m working.”

Close up of a woman's mouth smiling.
“Doing something that makes me feel happy and alive.”
Photo by Lesly Juarez on Unsplash

Paul Kinkaid – Managing director of Selfless Leadership

“Success for me is feeling satisfied that I’ve done my best and meeting the financial requirements and responsibilities that I have. If I know the bills are getting paid, and I know I’m helping other people and I can see a smile on people’s faces, then that’s enough for me.”

Chris Croft – One of the UK’s leading business trainers

“Happiness is the root of everything, because if it doesn’t make you happy then why are you doing it? If it’s well-paid but you’re not happy, why are you doing it? Maybe you’re saving up money so you can retire early but that means you have to sacrifice your whole life just for early retirement. In the end, I think success boils down to enjoying and achieving, and ideally doing both of those at home and at work.”

Katie Street – Founder and managing director of Street Agency

“If I’d been asked for my definition of success ten or 15 years ago, it probably would have been a lot more focused on money and outcomes and a nice house; those are still things that I want, but the real definition for me is to have helped other people on this crazy journey of life and to have a good balance and my own happiness.”

Steve Witt – Co-founder of Not Just Travel and The Travel Franchise

“Success is different for everybody, but for me it’s about building things. It’s not about the money; the money’s a great scorecard but ultimately it’s about helping other people become successful. The more people I can help become successful, the better.”

Tracey Howes – Founder of Blue Mind Social

“Success for me is being connected to myself and how I connect to the outside world. It’s a combination of how I look at myself in the mirror every day and how I relate to the world outside.”

Tim Lewis – Founder of Lewis Investment

“When I’m lying on my deathbed, I want to look back on my life and be fairly content with the life I led. And whether that’s pride in business, pride in family, pride in cycling—I think it’s probably a combination of all those things. There will be some things you’re not very proud of, and there will hopefully be a lot of things that you are very proud of, but generally if you’re fairly happy at that point, you’ve had a great life I think.”

Ollie Phillips – Former England Rugby 7’s captain, and founder of Optimist Performance

“Success for me is being at ease with yourself. In my 20s and 30s I was constantly looking around at what everyone else has got and trying to achieve more and do more and be more, earn more, win more—more, more, more, more. And it never brought me any real happiness, it just brought me more stress, more worry, more anxiety. Don’t get me wrong, there’s an amazing sense of achievement in setting yourself a target and achieving it, but just make sure whatever you’re doing, you’re in tune with it and it’s giving you a sense of fulfilment and fits with your values and purpose.”

Kate Chastey – The Passionate PA

“Success is about creating a life you don’t need a holiday from.”

Mother holding young child on the beach.
Photo by Xavier Mouton Photographie on Unsplash

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