I’ve spent a great deal of my career working as a member of teams tasked with turning around troubled organizations. I don’t think I intentionally set out on that path. Perhaps it is my affinity for the underdog that drew me to organizations that were actively seeking significant improvements in their cultural, financial or organizational health.
And perhaps because I was chosen by these organizations to join them during their difficult times of transition, my ego began to run away with me. I came to believe that each organization’s success was my success and that each failure was due solely to my personal shortcomings.
I lost track of intentions and boundaries. If a dysfunctional board needed to be turned around, I took it as a personal challenge to make sure that effort succeeded. If fiscal discipline was required, it became my job to see that the rigor required was applied. If organizational culture was a barrier to moving forward, I was responsible for success or failure of the shift in perspective and process.
All of this, of course, has not been good for my own sense of well-being. Intellectually I understand my successes and failures are not mine alone. But I lost track over the years of the fact that each company I worked for was like an organism and each part was dependent on the others for its health, wellbeing and success.
I never developed a definition of what success meant to me in my professional life. So I’ve floundered. I know from the friends I’ve made, glowing recommendations I received, the thanks I get for my efforts, that many of my other team members believe my efforts to be successful. But because I lacked a touchstone for what I considered success, most of the time I felt as if I had failed in some way.
So I’m trying something new. I’m creating my own definition of success.
This is my definition of success. If I conduct myself according to these principles, I am successful.
“I will do my best every day. I will do everything I know to do within my sphere of influence to help my organization reach its collective goal. I will ask for and accept help. I will maintain good and respectful intentions. I will set and maintain boundaries. I will not judge others. I will not judge myself based on the choices that other people make. I will behave with integrity and honesty and only conduct business in ways that are in alignment with my personal values. I will not sacrifice
my peace of mind with futile attempts to make up for someone else’s shortcomings, real or perceived. I will accept outcomes for what they are. I will learn. I will do better next time. I will be accountable for my own actions and inaction. I will not accept accountability or responsibility for the action or inaction or others. I will do these things to the best of my ability. I will not do them perfectly and that will be okay.”
I wonder how it’ll go.