How do you define “success” for you or your organization?

Do you achieve it regularly, or is it elusive?

When you do achieve success, does it feel as satisfying as you thought it would?

“Success” can mean something different for each of us, which is why I invest a great deal of time helping my individual and organizational clients to create THEIR vision of what success really looks like.

Too often, we end up pursuing someone else’s vision of success which can lead us in a direction that we may not really want to go.

Over the last month, I’ve had the honor to guide over 80 board members from organizations around the country map out their top priorities for the next 6-18 months. I’ll be working closely with them as they create and implement tangible action plans that will ensure they deliver their mission-related impact to those communities they serve.

Big Stuff. Lots at stake.

Our work together utilizes a wide range of tactics and strategies – from increasing individual giving, to creating increased momentum during a leadership transition, to turning-around years of budget deficits.

The surprise?

One would think that defining success within these organizations would be “simple” (at least compared to the questions of how to create multi-faceted financing plans or new donor retention initiatives!)

However, it is often surprisingly challenging to really get clear on what success actually means to the individuals and to the group.

So often, boards of directors and staff define success with very finite and seemingly tangible things such as “balancing our budget” or “increasing our revenue.”  Even in our personal lives, many of us tend to define success as achieving a title: “become a director” or reaching a certain salary level: “I want to make $100k per year.”

This makes perfect sense, but in my experience, for many people, these kinds of “normal” goals or “Point B goals” don’t connect to one’s true purpose, or an organization’s mission, or inspire people to become more deeply engaged so they take consistent action.

Or worse, even after achieving these kinds of goals, it can leave people feeling empty or still unfilled.

Instead, I encourage individuals and organizations to connect to the impact they are striving for – and meant to achieve.

For example:

If you are yearning for increased board (or staff) engagement and effectiveness, here is a discussion you can pose that may helpful (this is pulled directly from my 5 Step Process for Enrolling & Engaging).

  • “A year from now, when we/I get to the end of our fiscal year and we’ve balanced our budget (or secured a new job with a great title and salary), what will have been achieved… in terms of IMPACT? Who will have been impacted and how? How will that make you FEEL? Why?”

And then, continue to look at those emotional responses, and ask:

  •  “When we are/I am having our SUCCESS PARTY Celebration, what will have been achieved or occurred that will make us WANT to celebrate? Visualize yourself at that celebration!

The responses here usually begin with goals that sound like they “should” be meaningful, but the power comes when people connect from the heart, and identify what they personally would REALLY want to be celebrating:

  • “I will know I helped change a life” or “I was a part of something important” or “I now feel GOOD because…”

Once you have THAT kind of aspiration and “Point B,” then creating and implementing the action plan becomes both easier and more motivating.

How you visualize success determines your… success!

Today I invite and encourage you to create the success that truly holds meaning to YOU, and creates the impact that you are meant to achieve.

To your success,

Kathryn