What is success for you?

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A few days ago I had a chat with the daughter of a friend of mine and she was very curious to find out what the word success means. She is eight years old and just found out that I refer to myself as a success coach. The word ‘coach’ is something she knew because at her school they have a coach for their sports activities. She figured that a success coach is probably not related to a sports coach, but wasn’t quite sure what it was all about.

Making sense of success

So just how do you explain to an eight-year-old child what success is about without sounding really boring – and at the same time using simple and clear words to describe success in general? I have to say, I love the way children look at things: their easiness with how they accept things but at the same time questioning it (the word WHY springs to mind).

At these moments Jenny Lawson springs to my mind, especially her last book “Furiously Happy“. Besides being a number one New York Times bestselling author, blogger and journalist, she is also a manic-depressive with her own, sarcastic and fascinating point of view of life and everything in it (highly recommended read). In her book, she describes the way she measures success for herself in her own way and somehow this really stuck with me. Maybe I have some of her tendencies?

She describes it like this. Make a list of all the great things you love or hate. Assign an action to each item on the list and give each action a number between 1 and 10, identifying the difficulty for you to do the action. Now set yourself a goal of the total amounts of points you need to mark a day as successful. Every day, mark the actions you’ve done on the list and add up the points to measure your success. Sounds simple enough, right? Well, it is and that is the beauty of it.

The list of my friend’s daughter looked like this:

  • Help a spider back into the wild without squishing it. 10 points
  • Give Dad a big hug. 2 points
  • Give Mum a big hug. 2 points
  • Finish my homework. 8 points
  • Take the dog for a walk. 8 points
  • Clean my room. 15 points
  • Call Grandma and tell her I love her. 5 points
  • Clean my teeth. 5 points
  • Bring the bin out. 5 points
  • etc.

The list goes on for a few more points, but I think you get the gist. She has set her goal to achieve 50 points per day. Any day with more than 50 points is a successful day.
She has been doing her list for a few days now, adjusted some of the points for specific actions and added more actions to the list and she is loving it.

Now she understands success and she knows what a success coach does. 15 points for me!

When was the last time you’ve looked at your own list?

John Di Stefano

An entrepreneur at heart and founder of the Entrepreneur Academy in Brussels, Belgium. He is teaching and supporting entrepreneurs in the skills every entrepreneur needs to create a better life for themselves and the people around them.

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