As we have observed before, success means different things to different people, but the concept of trying to ‘be a success’ seems inherently problematic. This was brought home to me by a quote I read this week:

“Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.” – Albert Einstein

The difference between being a success and being successful is more than just semantics. ‘Being a success’ implies a self-centred approach to achievement, where we are focused on reaching greatness for ourselves, rather than for others. When we focus on ourselves, we give oxygen to our insecurities which then erects barriers to attaining success, so actually achieves the opposite of what we intend.

So often, striving to be a success comes at the expense of others (“There is only one winner!”), which leads us to live in fear and scarcity.  When we do this, we’re constantly looking over our shoulder, comparing ourselves to others and berating ourselves for our shortcomings. I have yet to meet a person who enjoys life, is their best self, or makes their best decisions in fear and scarcity.

To be successful at something (rather than to be a success) implies a collective endeavour and (literally) a fullness of achievement. Where to be a success is hollow, to be successful is a shared, abundant experience, and this is where the value lies.

As in servant leadership, when we focus on striving to be of value, our efforts are centred on others. What’s more, how successful we are can only be measured by the recipient(s), thus removing our ego entirely.

To be of value, we have to listen to what others want and need and must be selfless and unconditional in our approach. It’s not about us, it’s about them. Remember, treat others as THEY wish to be treated, not as WE want to be treated.

An important by-product of striving to be of value is that it boosts trust in our relationships with others.  Remember the trust equation (devised by Charles H Green, author of The Trusted Advisor)?

In striving to be of value and focusing on others, we reduce self-orientation, which automatically increases trust. And guess what? When others trust us, they listen more, connect more and buy more. Then, as if by magic, success is a wonderful side effect, however we then choose to measure it.

By showing organisations how to grow Profits and Smiles, we help leaders to be of greater value, to increase trust among their teams and enable everyone to have more fun and be more successful together. Please drop us a line if you’d like to know more.

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