How do you define success?

We all know that success can be defined in different ways. It often depends on an individual’s point of view, past experiences, how they were brought up, or even their mindset. Some believe that success is measured by assets, wealth, or trophies. Others are content with just the essentials and feel very successful in life. Some link success to test scores and report cards, while others associate it to acts of kindness, empathy, and community service. Success is something that is personal to all of us.

It was actually a Twitter post by George Couros that got me thinking about this. So I opened WordPress, and immediately started writing down some ideas of how I define success for myself as a leader.

Learning is success. In my opinion, learning something is always a success. As leaders, we strive to be the best version of ourselves so that we may better serve others. I find it very gratifying when I learn something new. I just love the feeling of accomplishment because it propels me on to my next learning experience. Doesn’t that feeling make you want to tell someone about it right away? Its exciting! In his book Leaders Eat Last, Simon Sinek talks about the effect of serotonin, ”The Leadership Chemical” in our bodies. I thought it was very insightful to learn about the science behind the feeling.

Failing is success because it means I tried, I took a risk. There is no learning without failing. The way I see it, when I fail at something, it is just a confirmation that I am in the process of learning, of improving, and this pushes me to not give up. Being successful is an ongoing process, and as leaders our learning needs to be in constant motion: learn, succeed, learn, fail, learn, fail, learn, succeed. It should never be at a standstill. Leadership = action.

Inspiring someone is success. To be inspired is great, but to inspire someone is incredible. When a person comes up to you and says ”Hey, I did it because of you”, or ”You really inspired me to accomplish my goal after I attended your workshop” is really an incredible feeling. A feeling of great pride (yup, the serotonin kicks in again). To know that I had that kind of impact is both motivating and satisfying. Like the saying goes, the more you inspire, the more people will inspire you.


Developing other leaders is success. I strongly believe that as leaders, it is our duty to help others develop their leadership. Not only do we make the team stronger, but we are also investing in its future. People will follow you not only because of who you are, but for what you have accomplished, and what you stand for. And when that happens, we usually get a domino effect: that leader will produce another leader.

success defined

Success is sometimes hidden. We need to make it visible, to share it, and to celebrate it. Sometimes we tend to focus on the negative. Lets drown the negatives with the positives!

I found this reflection very interesting because I had never intentionally stopped and thought about how I would describe success for myself as a leader. I am totally glad I did, and invite you to take a few minutes to reflect on it as well.

How do you define your success as a leader?

6 thoughts on “How do you define success?

  1. One of the ways I define success as an educator is by the level of success my students experience. As you mentioned, we all define success differently. Therefore I try to let my students define their own levels of success and how they will achieve them. Though we, of course, explore and learn about what is in the curriculum for my course, there are so many ways for students to demonstrate their learning. Also, I try to create authentic experiences for them which help them set goals and have a real impact. When they feel the effects of serotonin, I feel that I have succeeded in helping create opportunities for them to be successful.

    1. Hi Nancy, I love how you use student voice & choice in your class! By asking your students to set goals and work towards them through authentic learning experiences, they have opportunities to develop important competencies. Congrats, keep up the great work, and thank you for your thoughts!

  2. You actually make it appear so easy with your presentation but I find this topic to be actually one thing that I feel I would by no means understand. It sort of feels too complicated and extremely vast for me. I am having a look ahead in your next post, I will try to get the grasp of it!

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