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What Success Looks Like

A State of Mind vs. a Destination

by Nathan Jamail
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Success can be defined in a number of ways. If you look up the definition you will find several that you may agree with; the accomplishment of one’s goals, the attainment of wealth, position, honors, or achieving your goals. All of these definitions are correct—and none of them are. When it comes to success, there isn’t a set in stone definition because of two reasons: 

  • It depends on whom you ask
  • It is ever-changing 

In order to ‘obtain’ success, you need to know what success looks like for you. Without having your personal definition of success, how do you know what to shoot for? When you fail to clearly define success, all goals and activities remain fuzzy and unclear—making them more difficult and in some cases impossible to achieve.  

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John Langcuster, a vice president with a Fortune 500 insurance company who leads hundreds of people in daily operations, feels that “Success is achieved by having a great leader. One who knows how to recruit, practice on a regular basis, execute and, most importantly achieve results. Both the leader and team rely on a “teamwork”approach with a very strong belief system that a goal can be achieved. Also, consistent behavior breeds success.” 

Ken Smith, vice president with Georgia Pacific, states that “Success in the professional world is when you build a winning culture. Without having the right culture, strategies break down or lose every time. As I once heard, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”  

If the question, “What does success look like?” were posed to you, right now, what would your answer be? Would it look like a cookie-cutter definition from a dictionary? Would it look similar to these successful executives? What factors contribute to your answer? Work? Family? Personal? All of the above? 

One way to look at success is to wake up in the morning feeling inspired and excited and to go to bed feeling content and grateful. Your definition of success might not change daily, but the sense of achieving success can change as fast as the weather in Texas. A bad day, a good morning or a great phone call can take you from one side of success to the other. With that being said, much like happiness, success is a state of mind more than a destination. It may look different for many people and may differ in achievement based on personal or business definition, but to achieve your desired success there are three key principals that you must implement. 

  1. Cultural Laws  

Like Ken Smith says, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

A person must have cultural or personal laws that support their goals. The word law is important because we must view all behaviors and beliefs that contradict our definition of success as breaking the law. The greatest enemy of achieving success is allowing those that don’t agree or support that belief to break the cultural laws. Many times these infractions are small in action and have a very limited immediate consequence, but make no mistake: although the consequences are not immediate, they are immense and can be devastating to the achievement of success. 

  1. A clear understanding of success  

There are two key aspects of achieving success. First, a person must be able to understand their vision of success so they can share it with others to inspire other like-minded individuals to stay the course. Once it is visualized or communicated, a game plan must be implemented and given to everyone involved that contains key activities with measurable results. This is the difference from making a New Year’s Resolution to lose weight and a dedicated decision to live a more active and healthier life.  One is a decision that has commitments, beliefs and key actions the other is an empty goal that is based purely on a short term desire. 

  1. A desire and never-ending commitment to achieve it 

The majority of society desires success, but very view are willing to do what it takes. Achieving great success in life or business will require great sacrifice, constant focus, humility to learn, and confidence to challenge. In many cases a sense of blind optimism is required when dealing with seemingly insurmountable obstacles. No matter if one’s success is being a great husband or wife, or boss, or employee, it requires great sacrifice and a selfless mindset.  Achieving success is realized when a group of people are so committed and passionate about achieving their goals that no obstacle or situation can stop them. No matter what, win or lose, they stay committed to achieving their defined success. They have the desire that can outlast any resistance. 

Success can be described as when a person’s purpose is aligned with their actions. In business as in life, one must remain positive while in search of success, and understand that once one level of success is reached, it is not the end, rather is the starting point for the next great achievement.  At the end of the day, success is what one person makes it–what one believes. The level of achieving that success is determined by what one does to earn it.  No matter the definition, everyone can agree that “success is earned and not given!” 

About the Author

Nathan Jamail, president of the Jamail Development Group, and author of the best-selling Playbook Series, is a motivational speaker, entrepreneur, and corporate coach. As a former executive director, life insurance sales professional, and business owner of several small businesses, Nathan travels the country helping individuals and organizations achieve maximum success. Nathan has worked with thousands of leaders in creating a coaching culture. Get your copy of Nathan Jamail’s most recent book released by Penguin Publishers, “The Leadership Playbook” at