How often do you stop to evaluate why you are doing something and why it matters to you? Make time now to define success, significance, and priorities to live intentionally.
Being a successful entrepreneur is one of the most challenging and rewarding pursuits. If you have clarity today on what success and significance mean to you on a personal level, you will be light years ahead of others.
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Entrepreneurs and business leaders often obtain success only to find lower satisfaction than anticipated. Less contentment happens for a variety of reasons, and one of the primary ones is not having personal clarity on the meaning of success before pursuing it or adjusting your understanding as you learn and grow.
I have found it valuable to coach on personal and family matters simultaneously with business topics. By encouraging entrepreneurs to ask several revealing questions of themselves regularly, clarity emerges, and it helps to inform how to lead a business in addition to how to lead yourself.
Answer these questions in the context of personal and business expectations. Evaluating your answers on both dimensions enables you to understand more fully what is important to you over the long term.
Six Revealing Questions
- How Do I Define Success? Write this out in 3-4 sentences and let it sit for a week and re-read it. Make changes. Engage in conversations with your spouse and family. It is likely they define success differently. At a minimum, you will need to understand and honor those differences. Your answers to this question will be the framework on which you build success by design rather than default.
- How Do I Define Significance? As with your thoughts on success, write this out in 3-4 sentences and let it sit for a week and re-read it. Make changes. Engage in conversations with your spouse and family. Again, they will probably define significance differently. You will need to understand and honor those differences, incorporating them into your definitions. Your answers to this question will be the framework on which you build towards significance. Take note that success and significance are interrelated, and real significance builds on success.
- What Is Most Important To Me? Write three to five items down, including a few sentences each, answering “Why?” Evaluate how closely those things that matter to you align with how you define success and significance. If there is a gap, you may need to refine success, significance, and importance until you have alignment. Your answers to this question become the lens through which you generate clarity, and you can then develop priorities in alignment with success and significance.
- What Do I Enjoy Doing? This question almost always is answered similarly to “When I do _________________ I am at my best.” Take a few moments and also write out answers to this simple statement: “I’m happiest when I am _________________.” Check alignment with the first three questions and keep at it until you have congruence. Gaining clarity on what you enjoy helps to refine your answers above and expose potential conflicts with your priorities.
- What Frequent Activities Are Unimportant? Write these down also, adding a few sentences to each, and answering “Why?” for each one. Write out steps to stop doing these within 30-60 days. I wrote a post on outsourcing that may be helpful to you: Outsourcing Activities Is Your Key To Success. Delegate tasks you feel compelled to do or lack the skill set to do well. Answering this question and then shedding unimportant activities provides you with greater time and flexibility to pursue your priorities.
- What Do I Want To Focus On Next? Think in terms of “When I sell this business,” or “When I retire,” or “When I make changes.” Most frequently, I’ll hear “Spend more time with family” and “get back in shape.” Clarity here will help you rationalize what you are doing today in light of your priorities. As you develop clarity on your definitions of success, significance, and importance, you will more clearly see a path forward.
Make it a regular habit of asking yourself these questions and refining your clarity. We all grow and change over time, and the clarity you gain through this exercise will evolve over time as well.
The key to this exercise is engaging the questions repeatedly.
I am still a novice at this and have written, revised and re-revised multiple times. In addition, I have done a poor job of discussing these matters with my wife. I need to change that.
Occasionally it feels like little progress occurs. Be patient with yourself, as the effort to answer these questions will only be rewarding over time.
Leveraging Your Clarity
By gaining clarity, you have a framework for your priorities and for making decisions.
When you have clarity, it becomes easier to pursue what matters to you, politely decline involvement in activities not aligned with your priorities, and to focus on areas where your natural talents fuel success.
How clear are you today?
Make time now to define your success, significance and priorities. A year from now, five years from now, you'll be glad you did.