As a young entrepreneur, it was easy for me to identify success as something directly related to how much money someone was making. When a person makes a bunch of money, it’s easy to assume that he or she is successful. However, in the last five years, I’ve noticed a major shift in how people look at success — myself included.
For me, it began years ago at a dinner I was lucky enough to be invited to. Everybody at the table was in the hundreds of millions or even billions of net worth. One man at the table asked the question, “Do you think you are successful?”
He encouraged complete truthfulness and volunteered his answer first. He explained that he was in the middle of another divorce, that he didn’t think his kids even wanted to be around him, and that his only friends were people he guessed were friends for business purposes only.
I was taken aback by this transparency, but as the night progressed, more individuals in this incredibly wealthy group voiced their real struggles in other important parts of their lives. Since that night, I’ve noticed the emergence of more signs and factors of success besides money.
Success — and how we traditionally define it — is changing. Just because you’re wealthy doesn’t mean you’re a model of success, and just because you’re not raking in millions doesn’t mean you’re a failure. We have to stop this close-minded thinking. To help develop a more well-rounded view of what it means to be successful, here are three key areas that are becoming more and more integral to the idea of success:
1. A Healthy Mindset
There’s a clear difference between a person who’s confident in her path and content with her life and someone who’s made a ton of money but allowed the pursuit of it to take a toll. That’s why a healthy mindset is so important.
I’m not talking so much about mental state here as I am about a set of attitudes and habits you practice with intention. To me, a successful mindset is a healthy one — one in which you aren’t bombarded with unhealthy stressors, constantly frazzled, or frequently unable to handle situations without letting everything overwhelm you or throw you off track.
In the past, I wasn’t someone who fully appreciated the idea of mindfulness. As I’ve gotten older, though, I can’t think of many things that are more important to success than cultivating a healthy mindset.
2. Respect in Your Career
We live in a world where social media and platforms like Glassdoor and Owler broadcast not only what people think of you, but also how you treat others. You might make a ton of money, but if you treat people badly throughout your career, your success will be pretty shallow (and probably short-lived). Successful people understand that the example you set matters.
When you look back at your career, you want to know you’ve left a mark and that the people you’ve worked with hold you in the highest regard. With the world getting smaller, being respected in your career and for the way you treat others sticks with you and becomes more important to your success.
3. Surrounding Yourself With Solid People
I’ve been around people who sacrifice their relationships for personal gain. As I’ve followed them, I’ve seen them experience a sense of regret, almost like a feeling of being stranded on a desert island. They missed their chance to form amazing, genuine relationships and enhance their lives and the lives of those around them.
Part of having a successful career is being able to share the journey with others. I read a quote by psychiatrist Robert Waldinger as I reviewed the nearly 80-year-old Harvard study about the relationship between your sense of community and your health. He said, “Loneliness kills. It’s as powerful as smoking or alcoholism.” The study itself is really interesting, and I find this quote by one of its directors to be absolutely true. Surrounding yourself with people you admire, respect, and enjoy is so important to your life and your success.
Money will always be part of the perception of success. However, the perception is changing, thanks to the growing emphasis on some of the factors above. Keep these areas of your life in mind when you’re considering how to spend your time, how you define success for yourself, and what you aim to achieve.
John Hall is the CEO of Influence & Co., a keynote speaker, and the author of “Top of Mind.” You can book John to speak here.