How do you measure success? Do you see it as winning big contracts, promotions and pay rises, awards and effusive letters of appreciation or are you happy with a simple 'thank you', knowing that you've done a good job? Or maybe more free time is your vision of success.
It's easy to lose sight of the fact that some people measure success as simply getting out of bed, washed and dressed in the morning. Yes, medals, certificates and accolades are all well and good but moving from a low point towards a successful end result can require real courage and tenacity.
Indeed, not every day can be a massive success and not every day witnesses great achievements and newsworthy outcomes. So, what about those times when there are no successes to report, no great reasons to celebrate?
Let's first consider the people who are built for success, those people who've made and lost millions, sometimes several times over. They know about success and understand the drive and vision needed, the tools required to grow, thrive and excel, how to view setbacks as learning points. They have the tenacity and resilience to see beyond challenges, rarely considering failure an option.
These people recognise opportunities to be flexible and reevaluate the big picture, ready, if necessary to take a detour along another route. They have the mindset and determination to see beyond any hurdles, and are able to apply that focus over and over again.
It's important to reflect that the time spent identifying and growing the skills required to succeed is in itself a significant investment in any eventual achievement. Turning up is the first positive action, demonstrating that you're ready and willing to learn and persevere. So, making that phone call, sending that email, attending that networking event are all important foundations on which to build.
Think about baking a cake. There are many tasks required before the reward of a beautiful confection arrives; shopping for ingredients, ensuring you have the necessary kit, knowing what to do, the recipe, how long to bake it for all adds to the end result of a delicious cake, and all are mini-successes in their own right.
Being disciplined sets in place good habits. And even a disastrous result can teach us how to do things differently. After this past year of perhaps scarcely leaving the house, being locked down with little work, money and an equally stressed partner or children, success may be about simply turning up with a smile, briefed and ready to go. Mutual support, empathy and understanding are especially important at this time, along with gentle encouragement.
Success often includes learning new methods and skills, being flexible, adaptive, a team player when necessary, being receptive to different ideas, prepared to delegate when others have more time or expertise. Plus, self-care, attention to quality sleep, eating, breaks, exercise, needs to factor in too. Doing this is a good way to instil an enthusiastic mindset which focuses on a rewarding endgame.
And in business, success may include outsourcing or hiring other members of staff, though this may initially feel like an additional stressor, rather than an exciting success. Hiring someone adds a financial overhead and can also take you physically away from your business whilst you train and oversee their work. But ultimately an additional team member will free you up for other work or enable you to take time away to recharge your batteries, a success in itself.
If maintaining focus proves to be difficult it's important to find ways to work on any underlying issues and problem areas. Utilising the services of a therapist, business coach or mentor, mixing with like-minded people who understand and are supportive, sharing and discussing problems with family, friends or professional groups are all ways that can help you manage stress and find positive ways to cope.
However, if work has become a thankless environment some people may feel stuck, with few options for change. Choices are often limited when there are children to care for, a wage to be earned, friends and family to accommodate. But people in those situations may eventually vote with their feet and walk away. Or succumb to stress and ill-health. On average, UK workers take 5.8 sick days each year, at a cost of £723.80 per employee or £77.5 billion to the economy.
The work environment needs to be considered when management are assessing staff performance and their ongoing commitment to results and growth. Setting goals that staff feel are relevant and important, that motivate them to stretch themselves and succeed delivers important benefits to all involved. As does being understanding and providing the relevant support.
So, whenever you feel that you've no successes to report, start by giving yourself credit for each small step along the way. Even things like having a shower, making a phone call, sorting your inbox, filling out a form, can be significant results in your day. Sowing and nurturing the seeds, keeping focussed, supporting good habits all encourage your vision on your journey to whatever success looks like for you.