top of page

Welcome to this Navigate the Chaos blog post. To hire Michael for a keynote speech, workshop, or presentation be sure to visit the Contact page. You can also purchase a copy of the latest Navigate the Chaos collection and download the Google calendar for free.

How often do you define, and then redefine, your definition of success?

Today is September 25 and the Navigate the Chaos question to consider is “how often do you define, and then redefine, your definition of success?” People who navigate the chaos understand the need to continuously work on their definition of success. Life is far from static, and therefore, our needs, situations, and circumstances change thus challenging one to rethink their very definition of success. BC Forbes is one such person. As Forbes noted “Success is finding, or making, that position which enables you to contribute to the world the very greatest services of which you are capable.”

Forbes was born in New Deer, Aberdeenshire, in Scotland, the son of Agnes and Robert Forbes, a storekeeper and tailor. After studying at University College, Dundee in 1897 Forbes worked as a reporter and editorial writer with a local newspaper until 1901 when he moved to Johannesburg, South Africa, where he worked on the Rand Daily Mail under its first editor, Edgar Wallace.

Forbes immigrated to New York City in the United States in 1904 where he was employed as a writer and financial editor at the Journal of Commerce before joining the Hearst chain of newspapers as a syndicated columnist in 1911. He left Hearst after two years to become the business and financial editor at the New York American where he remained until 1916. He founded Forbes magazine in 1917 and remained editor-in-chief until his death in New York City in 1954, though assisted in his later years by Bruce Charles Forbes (1916–1964) and Malcolm Stevenson Forbes (1919–1990), his two eldest sons.

In December 2014 Laura Garnett published the article "How Do You Define Success?" in Inc. and received such a positive response she revisited the topic four years later in December 2018 in her article "Here's Why Creating Your Own Definition of Success Is Critical.” The response to her article surprised Garnett and ranks as one of the top five posts she has ever published. The popularity of article on the definition of success demonstrated to Garnett that “we are interested in how people genuinely define success, not just what the media tells us it is.”

Garnett challenged her readers to create their own definition of success. She put forth such a request because she understands so few people develop their own definition of success. Garnett noted that “too many people unconsciously buy into the definition of success that society tells us, which is frequently associated with power, money and material items. But success is a very personal thing. What drives one person can vary drastically from another.” The following four definitions of success as highlighted in Garnett’s 2018 article illustrate the differences across mindsets.

  • "Success is being excited to go to work every day and being equally excited to come home every night." Christina Hall CHRO Linkedin

  • "Success is defined by what makes you feel successful whether that's making more money or having a good relationship with your partner or a promotion you get. You need to define success for yourself and expect it to change along the way." Jaclyn Johnson, CEO & Founder, Create & Cultivate and author of WorkParty

  • "It would be easy to define success if what mattered are the things we can count or quantify like, how high we've climbed the corporate ladder or how much money we've made. But for me, it's the silent victories that stand above all that: the colleagues we've inspired, the lives we've touched, what we've given back to our world. The real measure of success is not what we have, but what we've shared." Amy Cappellanti-Wolf, SVP & CHRO at Symantec.

  • "I define success as creating an impact on the world, on the community, on my team, and on my loved ones. Success to me is about creating greater good, all the while remaining a loving daughter, partner, friend, team leader, and team player. That's why I believe integration is so important for an entrepreneur -- integrating your life and your career so that they become one and the same, collaborating with friends and turning to loved ones for support so that they become part of your every day as you work. That is true success." Tiffany Pham, Founder & CEO of Mogul

Each definition of success defined above allows you an opportunity to reflect upon just how different people view their path. How people navigate the chaos, the dreams they pursue, and their definition of success are deeply personal.

  • What have you done lately to help yourself understand how your own definition of success?

  • Are you traveling down a path because someone else told you that would like to success?

  • Have you allowed someone else to define success for you? If so, why is that?

  • Do you understand it is never too late to claim your own definition of success?

bottom of page