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Defining Success to get Success

Here is a question I ask a lot, when I say a lot, I mean at least daily! It's one of my favourite questions when talking with clients and for myself as well! It's one of those questions that really should be one of your key questions as well, are you ready for it because it really is going to change your life, I know sounds like hype right? it's not... so here is the questions, ready...

"What does Success look like, for you?

That's It?

Doesn't seem life changing does it, but it'll surprise you. For example, you are about to start a new project with your team, you ask the question, What does Success look like, for you? now initially I guarantee that you will get some quick witted answers, usually something about lotto or a horse romping home in the next race or a football team winning but stick with it, eventually you will get some really cool answers that build a picture of success for this team. It may be everyone getting home safe at the end of the day, it may be making today's deliveries on time, it may be learning a new skill or something we haven't even thought about yet.

What about when it comes to a project, or even a continuous improvement step, asking "What does Success look like, for you? Here also helps to frame the end goal and clearly define what it needs to be. Everyone becomes crystal clear what that success is, so everyone is focused on achieving it, they are all pulling in the same direction. Success may be delivering the entire project or improvement but often I ask them to think about what the small steps will be along the way that would also be a signal of success.

The Daily Success 

Something else to think about is what would success look like for you today or tomorrow, what would make that day a success? It's not going to be a huge over arching project, it's going to be achieving a bunch of small things or maybe clearing one sizeable thing off your plate. For some it may be achieving an hour out on the mountain bike or beating their best time for the 200m swim.

I used to have one employee who felt that success for her was getting out of bed every day and keeping going, sober, and it certainly was, so be aware that success isn't the same for everyone!

Reminding Yourself About Successes

It's easy to get to the end of the day and think that it's been a day you have just got through; you haven't really accomplished things. A few of these days in a row can really start to take their toll on you or the team but if you really stop and think about it you and the team will no doubt have knocked things off the list or taken a step forward.

Maybe it was getting that machine change over done in the expected time, perhaps you managed to get time to walk the floor and have 4 conversations with your team that left them feeling better, or maybe you got time to drop your daughter off at school and spend enough time with her to hear about the cool picture she made yesterday or the project they are working on today. Each of these things is a success, some greater than others perhaps but it's not about the size, it's about the fact that they exist.

Re-framing Your Mind for Positive Thinking

The focus of this approach is really about helping you be positive, about re framing your thinking and your teams thinking into looking for the positive, seeing the successes. It's far too easy to think, well if I just achieve X or Y then I'll be happy, I'll be a success. The reality is that you will not feel like that, but if you switch it around, and focus on the happiness, the small successes then guess what, the other things will flow, and they will happen easier. Not to mention the release of the natural chemicals in your brain (Dopamine, Oxycontin, Serotonin & Endorphins) all combining to give you that buzz you get when something goes well, or you are kind to someone.

If you can start looking for the small successes, seeing them every day then your ability to be positive and stay positive increases exponentially, and guess what, it does this with your team as well (and of course your family) this positivity is also a massive help in building those resilience muscles as well!


Tomorrow, when you get up, take 5 or 10 mins and think what the success for you would be that day, for your team. Ask you team when you get to work, remembering to let them get the silly out 1st. Then focus on those small successes, feel the sense of happiness and achievement increase as you score each thing off the list and pit into the win column of your day.

Additional Reading

It's not often that we suggest additional reading for a post, but these 2 books are really outstanding and will help you along the way.

The Happiness Advantage
- Shawn Achor

The Happiness Advantage is a fantastic book which takes a really entertaining approach to talk about the growing science around positive psychology and the effects that has on your brain.

Shawn Achor takes us through the various stages of his thinking and the supporting research in a really enjoyable and understanding way and gives you 7 principles that you can apply to your own life and your work environment.

Resilience at Work
-  Kathryn Jackson

Resilience at Work is another magnificent book born out of the aftermath of the devastating Christchurch NZ Earthquakes by someone who was knee deep in dealing with those on the front line of keeping Christchurch going and rebuilding it. It's a practical and sometimes humours approach again gives you steps that you can instantly apply and share with your team.

Get In Touch

If you need any support in developing or improving your organisation then click here to make an appointment and find out how we can help you Make Things, Better

You can also call John on 0211649739 to set up a meeting 


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Wednesday, 08 April 2020

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