Questions to Help You Mind Your Business... Question #9

Question #9: How will I know if I am successful?


This is the ninth in a series of thoughts and opinions by Graham Edwards and Renée Cormier — click here to read the backstory and inspiration (if only for the entertainment). It should be noted that neither of us have seen or discussed our answers before they are posted, which in our mind makes this all the more interesting.

In this blog series we will attempt to answer ten different questions business owners may need answered, using our individual and unique perspectives and approaches. It is our hope that this series will inspire both action and interaction. Please feel free to comment and ask more questions.

Graham —

 I don’t know — you will have to tell me.

Since success needs to be measured against the goals and objectives you set for yourself, it goes without saying only you will know if you’re successful. Sure, there are societal norms and conventions that you can use to benchmark yourself against, but in the end you define your own success.

Oh everyone has an opinion on this; just ask anyone and they will have quite the perspective on it — although I’ve found if you keep pressing you may find they actually struggle to articulate what success really is. I’ve even checked the Internet and found a site called Lifehack — sure enough Missy Yost offered up 20 definitions of success you should never ignore (bless her heart).

  1. Success is always doing your best
  2. Success is properly setting concrete goals
  3. Success is having a place to call home
  4. Success is understanding the difference between need and want
  5. Success is believing you can
  6. Success is remembering to balance work with passion
  7. Success is taking care of your needs
  8. Success is learning that you sometimes have to say no
  9. Success is knowing your life is filled with abundance
  10. Success is understanding you cannot keep what you don’t give away
  11. Success is overcoming fear
  12. Success is seeing your child graduate
  13. Success is learning something new each day
  14. Success is learning that losing a few battles can help you win a war
  15. Success is loving and being loved back
  16. Success is standing your ground when you believe in something
  17. Success is not giving up
  18. Success is celebrating small victories
  19. Success is never letting a disability hold you back
  20. Success is understanding you control your destiny

So there you go.

You may be saying to yourself, “But gpe, we are talking about how will I know I’m successful with my business.” Again, I will say, “I don’t know — you will have to tell me”. You have goals and objectives for your business don’t you?


PS: The only perspective I can really offer is when you set your Goals & Objectives, set them HIGH.

Renée —

I think this may be a bit of a lame question, but as I recall, I was the one who came up with it, so I’m going to provide you with my best answer. People define success in many ways, and it is different for everybody. For some, you are successful if you have a lot of money. For others success is the result of having completed any goal. Are you successful if you don’t have a spouse and 2.4 children? Are you successful if you never own a house or a car? Ask the Dalai Lama.

Years ago, I was listening to a Brian Tracey tape (yes, it was a while ago) about success. He gave a definition that always stuck with me, which was something along the line of achieving any goal with integrity. He went on to say that money is not a measure of success per se. Drug dealers have enormous amounts of money, but you can’t really call a criminal a successful person. They lie, cheat, steal, kill and corrupt to reach their goals. A runner who shoves a competitor out of the way in order to win, is not a successful runner, even if he is first over the finish line. The journey to success is as important as the end result.

So how will you know if you are successful? Look around you. What are you grateful for? Have you set goals in your life? Have you achieved any of them? Have you achieved your goals with integrity? Have you ever failed?

I think truly successful people, never really arrive. Not that they cannot be satisfied, but rather, they find it difficult to stop challenging themselves. Success breeds success. I also think that failure breeds success. You cannot know what you want until you experience what you don’t want. Most successful business people have had their share of failures too. Being able to recognize what is not working and why is a good thing. Have you made mistakes? Did you learn from them? Are you still moving toward your next goal? Do you feel good about the things you have done? Are you a happy person?  I daresay, if you can answer yes to these questions, you are likely quite successful.

The definition of success to me is not necessarily a price tag, not fame, but having a good life, and being able to say I did the right thing at the end of the day. - Jeremy Luke

Thanks to the social media platform beBee, Renée Cormier & Graham Edwards developed a business relationship and friendship that typically involves regular meetings, goal setting sessions, etc. Our meetings often provide the fuel for plans around business strategy, blog ideas and more.

Renee & Graham Blog Plate.jpg



You define success... no one else does.

I have a 200 kilometer bike ride to support conquering cancer* in eight weeks; now a part of every weekend is dedicated to training. I was out today with a couple of good friends... enjoying the day and getting some kilometers under "my belt". As we were coming to the end of our ride, three riders passed us at a much faster pace and were way ahead of us before we knew it. I heard one of my friends say, "I should be in much better shape and be as fast as they are" - To that I said, "Just think of all those people who are not even out here".

For my buddy, success was going faster and for me success was being out on the road. We both have a goal to finish the BIG RIDE, but our definitions of training success are different. Is one person's definition of success better than the other? Of course not, as in this case, we will both finish the BIG RIDE. Success is different for all of us, with no one definition of success being better than the other. And only you can decide how success is defined for you.

Some people may say to me, "you should be training to ride faster", and that is fair. But here is the thing, there will be other people who would agree with my definition, and yet others, will have other definitions of successful training. And this is the trap when it comes to discussions of success; there can be a wide range of success definitions, criteria or opinion.  And who is to say what the "success hierarchy" is...

  • Is success defined by wealth?
  • Is success defined by the number of friends you have?
  • Is success defined by the loving family you have?
  • Is success defined by fame?
  • Is success defined by health and longevity?
  • et cetera

Which of these are more important? Are any of them? Who truly can say?

In the end, success has to be measured relative to a goal - And that goal should be yours. So again, the definition of your success has to be all about YOU and not defined by someone else. I appreciate that a person's definition of success may be aligned with someone else's definition of success and probably very contextual... such as being a sales representative and having success defined as reaching a sales target. Hopefully this is aligned with a personal goal and if not, success will most likely be hard to find.

So if you want success - set YOURSELF goals and then achieve them.


* Ride to Conquer Cancer 



Write something down... anything.

The following is the original and the rewrite can be found by clicking here.

Louis CK* does a very funny comedy routine where he talks about how he is so very proud of himself for just thinking about doing something and revels in how wonderful he is for just having had the thought - Although he never really seriously came close to doing it. 

In part I thought of this because it is the beginning of a new year but also because I've been proudly telling people that my 2015 goals and objectives are down on paper. When I ask if they have done the same, a serenade of crickets seem to follow shortly thereafter. If you come from a corporate world you know there is an agonizing amount of process and administration around setting annual Goals and Objectives, so I was even more surprised when hard core business people seem to look away as I ask.

To be clear I am not referring to "resolutions"**. I am talking about a plan for the year, associated with a vision with objectives and activities to get you there; there are two parts that I am referring to here... having a plan and actually acting on it

If you were asked by the Cheshire cat where you wanted to go in 2015 would you have an answer? It speaks to the old adage... it doesn't matter what you do if you don't know what you want. Business, particularly bigger business, is very good at the process  of developing plans aligned with strategy, mission and vision (sometimes agonizingly so) - Why shouldn't you?

Remember that this isn't just an academic exercise nor should it ever be. We should have a Vision for our life and Guiding Principles that focus us, and as superfluous as these may seem, they actually act as a lighthouse when life gets stormy and complicated. With these guiding principles, as well as consideration to the current situation, plans, goals and objectives can be developed that drive action . Remember this about planning... it can take two hours and one piece of paper or three months and countless PowerPoint presentations. In the end it is important have a plan.

I suspect that most of us carry a plan in our head that may or may not be tied to a longer term vision for ourselves, but if push comes to shove, we have one - Now back to Louis CK; having a plan in your head is analogous to him revelling in the fantasy of thinking about doing something and how wonderful it is to just be thinking of it. 

Now to the real point in all of this - It does not become real until you write it down. With the act of writing it down (typing or graphically representing it...whatever it takes), you have created something that is now tangible, communicable, measurable, and the first step to executing on it. There is a large amount of urban legend with regards to how your probability of success increases by writing something down; this is well articulated in a book called The Art of Quitting by Peg Streep and Alan Bernstein ***. For me personally, there is a commitment that comes to writing it down.

Oh, one last thing... don't be so particularly concerned with the format and formality - Simply put, the vision and panning really are just, "what you want to be and what are you going to do to get there?" Formality of a good planning format and language can always be evolved to: Vision, Mission, Guiding Principles, Smart G&Os, strategies and tactics. You will get there soon enough. Just write something down... anything.

This is what I have written down for 2015... (I am partial to PowerPoint so I was able to simply cut and paste)

The Vision for a fulfilled Life

  • Self confidence with myself and the world through mindful action and presence (self)
  • Self awareness and knowledge through activity & travel, learning, knowledge and wisdom (self)
  • Deep emotional connection with a “Life Companion” (relationship/spirit)
  • Deep connection  and Legacy for my Daughter (relationship/spirit)
  • Satisfying circle of friends with personal and professional connections (relationship/spirit)
  • A safe, comfortable and tranquil living space (environment)
  • Intimate work with a company or small circle of clients to help them grow into their goals (environment)

(Guiding Principles in Bold)

2015 Goals and Objectives

  1. Self Confidence: Maintain an uninterrupted physical lifestyle, Study mindfulness, Expand networks and formal association membership  

  2. Self Awareness and Knowledge Travel at least twice in 2015 internationally, Take at least two academic courses, Continue community activities

  3. Deep Emotional Connection: Develop a soulful “Life Companion” relationship, Continue to build an  adult relationship with Sarah

  4. Satisfying Circle of Friends:  Continue initiating quarterly get-togethers, Assess toxic friendships, Develop positive new friendships 

  5. Legacy: Develop a family Legacy plan

  6. A Safe, comfortable, tranquil living spaceRelocation and execution plan

  7. Intimate work:  Solidify GPE Stratagem as an income generator (> $XXXX K), Develop client funnel, Develop Blogging capability (no less than twice a week), Expand social networking 

I have written out the detailed activities to reach the above goals for the first six months of the year; come July, I will review and adjust the objectives accordingly. Based on the situation and my successes, I then develop activities for the second half of the year. I am big on Goals and Objectives being SMART*** to ensure that there is the greatest chance of success.

Well there you have it...there can be a great science to developing Goals and Objectives that ensure the greatest likelihood for success. For me though, just write them down - Bring them to life now, as you can optimize the formality and wordsmith them as you go.


* Louis CK is a very funny American comic - Louis CK Live at Beacon Theatre (language warning but very funny)

** I simply hate resolutions... yes I know hate is a strong word.

*** Chapter 7 - Mapping your Goals

**** SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time bound... this is the criteria that should be used to develop good objectives.