success vs. failure, my perspective

This morning I would like to point out a really interesting post from Rue Mag founder, Crystal of Plush Palate. In her recent post, she asks for input on what makes someone successful or a failure. While writing my own comment on the topic, I thought it might be worthwhile to share here on MML as well. I get a lot of business owners or want-to-become business owners asking me how to grow and become better at their business. In many cases, the words are code for “how to make their businesses” successful.

To be honest, my perspective on this question has actually shifted in the the past year. Below explains my thoughts on the success vs. failure definition.

I don’t think that money actually has anything to do with success or failure – not that you did either – but it is many times a looming indicator for a lot of people. While starting a business, it is essential in order to continue to grow the business or pursue the purpose, it is like fuel, if you will, and therefore really important.

But I’ve found as I’ve grown my own business, that as money fades into the background and becomes relatively less worrisome, the real test of success is how well I’ve been able to develop and grow my business into something that provides purpose, meaning, and touches people’s lives. That impact is success – I could have done many things to just earn more money or have a bigger business- but if it didn’t provide purpose and meaning, then I think as a self-employed person, I kind of failed at the whole point.

Do what you love and keep doing it. The fact that money may be an issue throughout that journey is an undeniable fact, but doesn’t need to enter the success/failure equation.

Of course this is just my personal opinion and there are an unlimited number of success/failure definitions. Hop on over to Crystal’s post to share your thoughts on the subject!

*poster via here

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  1. Jade

    Such a wonderful observation! It is sometimes very hard for people to wrap their heads around the notion that making money doesn’t always equal success. I love how you talked about success in terms of fulfilling your dreams and purpose for your business. You are one smart lady!!!

  2. Lisa

    Really enjoyed your thoughts on this subject, thanks for sharing!

  3. Cathy

    I also saw that post yesterday, but didn’t have a chance to look at the comments. I’m glad you posted yours over here as well. And like you, I don’t think money is an indication of success. I have a job that pays pretty well, but it doesn’t fulfill my purpose (personally and professionally). Raising a family and having a purpose-filled job would be pretty darn successful to me. Being paid well to do what I love would be a nice bonus.

  4. Anna

    This failure image came at the right time as I am experiencing a difficult time in my new job. Thanks for the reminder that failure is an option.

  5. Lauren

    I’m totally on the same page as you Jess! Success does not equal money – I feel like the whole concept of “success” changes as you grow in years and becomes less and less about what you are doing and more and more about who you are becoming.

  6. Piper

    Great conversation to start. I think that what success means to each person varies so much – it’s so interesting. For me, it’s doing something I love and having freedom. Success does not equal money – but the hard thing is just making enough to pay bills! I definitely think that the only way you fail is by not trying.

  7. lauren

    LOVE THIS! It really got me thinking, and inspired a post for my blog!

  8. Merissa

    I think what makes a person/business a success or failure is highly subjective. A company’s mission statement and vision, if written correctly, would define both success and failure.

  9. I 100% agree with you. Ten years ago if you asked me what I wanted out of life, it would be a career in finance making a lot of money, because I thought that money would equal success which would lead to happiness. However, ten years later I did exactly that, got the career in finance, and the big paychecks… and to be honest the one area in my life that I am unhappy with is my day job! I think true success is doing what makes you truly happy and staying true to yourself and not a paycheck. Yes you need to eat and have a roof over your head, but the more you make under the more you realize “things” will never make you happy. Finding your passion and following your dreams will…

  10. I think pursuing one’s dreams is a lot like driving: Don’t look where you don’t want to go. 🙂

    I’ve been reading a lot of Tim Ferris’ material lately. He makes a good point when dealing with the whole scary ‘what if’ problem: Paraphrased, he says, okay so if your new business fails, you live off your savings for a few months and you go back to 9-5-ing it. It’s more of a shame and fear issue in your head than it is a practical issue of immediately feeding and sheltering yourself. I like it. It’s so rational. 🙂

  11. Thank you for continuing the conversation over on your blog! And for your insight – something I always cherish 🙂

  12. Becca

    Great post Jess! I’m doing all of the recommended reading and really love this post. While we all need money, I don’t think that’s what defines success.

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