By Karen Gregory, HRSS President
“If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done. ” ~ Thomas Jefferson
Clearly everyone’s definition of success varies. Think about it. Some define success by their wealth and material things. Some define it based on whether they’ve risen to the highest position possible in their workplace. And others define success by measures of overall happiness and satisfaction with their life.
What defines your success? And at what cost?
I had a colleague write me today. He was perplexed about a tough decision with which he was wrestling. He has risen to rung #4 on the corporate ladder. He’s super committed and cares about the people in the organization. He gets paid decent and has the ear of those in power. By all means, he has risen through the ranks and has done very well.
“So what’s the problem?”, you may be asking. In short — he’s not happy in that position.
By all measures he has excelled and created success for himself. However, his job satisfaction level is bottoming out to the point that his email to me was titled, “Is it crazy?”
He wanted an objective opinion on whether I thought it crazy for him to consider a move to a different position of a lesser “pedigree”. The position is located in the state he grew up from and although the number of employees he would manage would be a substantial decrease, the position would pay the same as his current position.
The question really was more about whether I thought it crazy that he would consider moving from a position four levels down from the CEO to one that one move him further away from the golden chair and a lot further from the center of power.
And so I responded the best way I knew how…openly and honestly. My [verbatim] response to him:
I’m honored and flattered you would consult me on such a personal matter.
The question comes down to what do you really want moving forward? Would you be ok with the move…possibly even more happy? OR…would you look back with regret because you didn’t have the same level of influence?
Dig deep…what makes you happiest?
I’ll share a personal example:
I was a fairly fast tracker in the military. Did very well and was moving along quite quickly. However, my family was not real happy with my military lifestyle (to put it nicely). After I reached 10 yrs and accepted that PCS assignment I “knew” I would push forward and make the military a career.
That didn’t happen. Why? Because I had to look at both my personal and professional priorities. They weren’t aligned and that was wreaking havoc in my life! Not only on the personal side, but I was a bit disenfranchised with my leadership and didn’t want to “grow up to be like them”.
I had to decide what I wanted to do — keep on with the military (which is what I had originally planned) or give it up and do something different. This was the hardest decision I think I’ve ever made. I had proven that I could excel in the military, that I could have great influence and even power to make a difference. On the other hand, I had a family and knew the military life would eventually be but a faded memory (and a boot in the butt when it was my time to go).
You already know my decision. I chose to change my profession (although I still get a bit of glory in the fact that I get to wear my uniform as a reservist). 🙂
A friend once said to me, “Why do you feel you can only be successful by being in the military?” That question had a profound effect on me. It changed my perspective… and my life.
Success is only defined by OUR definition. No one else can you tell you that you’ve been successful or not. Only you can define that for your self…just like happiness.
So…what’s your definition of success? And what makes (or would make) you happiest?
I feel successful and accomplished. I have had ups and downs with the business. But most importantly I have my family who will last a lot longer than the military. 🙂
I know it’s a bit different situation, but I hope my story helps in some way.
The bottomline is: determine what is most important to you at the core of things.
Best of luck…you’ll make the right decision.
And by sharing this, I hope in some way it helps others out there who are struggling with the same challenges.
What defines your success?
We’d love for you to share!