“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where,” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
“Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll
There are dozens of books on self-help, entrepreneurship and success. However, I have found that the most basic principle of success, the one most people miss, and the one that helps the most, is sitting down and defining success.
The first thing to ask when engaging with clients in either legal work or business consultancy is, “What is your definition of success?” It is unusual that people have a distinct answer to this question even though this is a fundamental component of starting a new business, hiring a new employee, setting up a will or suing someone.
Once you have defined success, you can effectively address the second basic principle of success: Doing only those things that move you towards success. I have had many friends in my life and many business clients in my portfolio who don’t actively define success. They simply assumed they wanted more of something — usually money.
Even when money is the true definition of success (and it really shouldn’t be), one must still decide how best to get there. I have many professional friends who seem to believe that working more hours is the best way to make money. But, if you think about it, there are many ways to make more (or enough money). Simply working harder or longer does not necessarily need to be one of them.
Furthermore, understanding other people’s definition of success can be a powerful tool when working with, negotiating against or selling to other people.
Whether reflecting upon your business life or some aspect of your personal life, ask yourself one simple question: Have you accurately defined success? The next time you’re alone in the car, take a moment and define success. The improvement it will bring to your decision-making process will be well worth the effort. The Cheshire Cat will also be proud!
Brad Bickerton, JD/MBA, works as a general attorney and business consultant for the Law Firm of Hampton & Pigott. He lives in Minturn and works with the Vail Leadership Institute.