What matters?

I saw this interesting diagram on Twitter and it really inspired me to think about my own perceptions around success and what really matters. What’s the first thing that you see or identify with?

Picture copyright: Liz Andmollie

I admit that when I was starting out in my career, I was very clearly focused on the top image with a dash of: liking what you do thrown in for good measure. I’ve always been lucky that I do strive to enjoy every job that I’m working in and this is a key aspect for my overall job satisfaction.

When did it change?

I think my attitudes toward success changed when the segments of the bottom image became out of balance. I started to re-evaluate what really mattered for me and what was my own definition of success. I came up with a few things for myself:

  • Being happy in the work that you do
  • Respected for the work you do/value you can bring
  • Working on something meaningful
  • Not wasting time on unimportant stuff
  • Getting a true balance between life and work where they’re not competing or fighting for dominance.
  • Being healthy

What does success really mean?

Is success only based on what you think? Or also what others think of you? What makes up the core definition of success? I teach my children that success is achieved when they try their best, regardless of the outcome. I also try to teach them the value of saying “No” and prioritising the value of free time vs. work and keeping a good balance.

Within projects were often talking about the goals we set and that a project can only be a success when it’s delivered all of the deliverables but what about the lesser known success factors? What about the value that has been delivered? The individual knowledge that has been gained? Or the efficiencies that have been brought about indirectly as a result of the project? During project retrospectives, I often try to widen my teams own definition of success but also to think outside of the box for what success can mean for us within a project.

Changing your mindset around success

Here are a few tips for changing your mindset around success:

  • Analyse what’s most important for you when you think about success. Don’t be afraid by your own answers
  • Look at the potential downstream impacts of your success. Is that the personal development of your team? How your team work and develop is improved?
  • Make a difference between personal success, team success and organisational success. There may be some alignments but there can also be a lot of differences


What is your definition of success? What makes the difference between success and failure?

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