Perception is everything. Especially in a world where we're surrounded by successful athletes, entrepreneurs, models, actors & musicians on every form of media from print to radio to TV. Overnight successes are instantly created by shows like Shark Tank, and we're left to thinking that one day....just one day our "big break" will happen and we'll fit the necessary criteria to be labeled as successful.
Just like many other "wantrepreneurs," I was fascinated by the success of well-known entrepreneurs like Richard Branson (Virgin), Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) & Tim Ferriss (4 Hour Work Week) and the value that they were able to create through their business. I was striving to observe and soak in as much as possible during my years studying Entrepreneurship at college hoping that one of my crazy ideas would launch me into the realm of successful innovators.
As I mentioned in a previous post, my opportunity for success happened at the intersection of timing, opportunity (market) & choice. I made the decision to help the farmers and begin on a journey that would hopefully lead to success, recognition & appreciation. Since that time almost a year ago, my perception of success has evolved and matured in ways giving me the opportunity to create value in ways I never envisioned.
The 3 S's - How I Now Define Success.
While studying Entrepreneurship in college, I wanted to create value and build a business that changed lives on a large scale. After spending the last year traveling & building the business, I've realized what I value most. Not the recognition, being labeled as successful or the opportunity to massively scale the business, but the freedom that owning a business gives me. Obviously not all businesses will provide freedom (think brick & mortar), but I've increasingly noticed my passion for freedom because of the time that's created to do what I love most - be with friends and family. As I approach my wedding date & look to start a family, I know I will value this even more to spend as much time as possible with my wife and kids.
Sometimes the most powerful thing you can say is "no." It's exciting to be presented with opportunities to expand and grow a business, but it's not always the smartest decision to do that. Recently, we were presented with the opportunity to expand globally, but we realized that this would bring more stress and take away our freedom. We value the compliment that the opportunities gave us, but we value our freedom more.
Einstein said it best: "try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value." Starting down this path almost a year ago has enlightened me on what it means to create something of significance. Being able to help rural coffee farmers abroad is our purpose, and being able to do that while working for myself is an added bonus. Waking up every day & knowing that every cold call, e-mail, meeting, demonstration, etc. is not only benefiting my future, but the future of people 8,000 miles away, gives purpose to everything that I do. This purpose is something that initially ignited the flame within me to start the business and has continued to push me through the toughest days and longest nights.
Define Your Success.
Before starting any adventure, whether it be starting a business, traveling or accepting a new job, take the time to write what it means to achieve success. For me, success encompasses an accomplishment that is simple, smart & significant. For you, it might be financial or creative freedom, world travel or helping the needy, but it all starts with the simple question: how do I define success? Don't let others define success for you. Define it yourself and do whatever it takes to achieve and embrace it wholeheartedly.