What defines a “successful” career?

  • Money?
  • Power?
  • Prestige?
  • Popularity?

Too often we define success by looking in the review mirror. We look at our accomplishments to see how our peers and employers value our contribution — measured by our salary, position, or influence. In other words, we let the market be our measure of success or greatness.

Seth Godin talks about this phenomenon as it relates to a work of art, or a song. If the picture sells for a lot of money, or if the musician becomes really famous, our society tends to assume that there must be some inherent quality that makes it great. He says

“After all, what makes a great work of art should have nothing at all to do with how much it sells for and everything to do with how it makes you feel. I think the game here is in the definition of ‘great.’ And what society has chosen…is that ‘great’ means successful. Not the other way around.”

We tend to do the same thing with our careers. We spend too much energy focusing on how to be “great” instead of how to be “successful.” We find success by using our gifts, talents, and passion to help or serve others. We find success by discovering and doing what we are created to do.

What are you created to do?