May
20

What is success?

By

In 1986, when I was 39 years old, I began to notice a terrible trend among my colleagues, college buddies and friends: divorce.

This was happening in a variety of marriages – from the shaky to the apparently strong. Margaret and I didn’t think our relationship was in any kind of danger, but then again, we knew that many of our friends had thought their relationships were indestructible too.

At the same time, my career was really taking off. And while I was enjoying the new challenges, I knew that I didn’t want to lose my family in the process. That prompted me to make one of my key life decisions: rewriting my definition of success. Instead of acclaim or advancement or achievement, I decided that for me,

Success means having those closest to me
love and respect me the most.

This made success for me possible only if I included my wife and children in the journey. From that moment on, my success depended on putting my family first.

If you want to truly succeed in this life, you need to ask yourself a question: Is your pursuit of success drawing you closer to – or farther from – the most important people in your life?

If you want to redefine success the way I did, here are some ways to put your decision into practice:

Determine your priorities.

How much of your calendar is devoted to your family and/or close friends? On your budget and to-do list, where do you write in your loved ones? No relationship can survive for long on leftovers.

Early in my career, I focused so much on work that I neglected Margaret. After I realized this, I changed. I carved out time for her. I protected my day off. And we dedicated money in our budget to facilitate special times together.

It’s been said that a lot can be learned about what a person values by examining two things: their calendar and their bank statement. They show where people spend their time and money. What do those things say about what YOU value?

Decide on your philosophy.

Once your loved ones are a priority, you have to decide together what you want your family to stand for. What values will you live out? For us, the bottom line was to cultivate and maintain:

  • Commitment to God,
  • Continual growth,
  • Common experiences,
  • Confidence in God, ourselves and others, and
  • Contributions to life.

This was my family’s list. I’m not suggesting that you adopt our philosophy. But I encourage you to take time together to list YOUR non-negotiables. Keep the list short so that you can remember and apply it.

Develop your problem-solving strategy.

I think a lot of people go into marriage expecting it to be easy. Maybe they’ve seen too many movies. Marriage isn’t easy. Family isn’t easy. Close friendships aren’t easy. The best plan is to expect problems, stay committed, and develop a strategy for getting through the rough times.

Talk to your loved ones about how you could improve your problem solving together. (NOTE: Do this during a calm time, not in the middle of a conflict!)

Many problem-solving strategies exist, from family meetings to fair fighting rules. Use the ones that work for you. Just be sure that they foster and promote three things:

  1. Better understanding,
  2. Positive change, and
  3. Growing relationships.

Deciding to redefine success, and acting on that decision, changed the trajectory of my life. Now, 24 years later, I’m still married to the love of my life, both my kids are married with children (my grandangels!), and we all still enjoy spending time together.

Wrapping my definition of success around those I love the most made the difference. And really, when you reach the end of your life, what will be most important to you? Dusty awards granted by acquaintances, or deep connection with those you love?

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Comments

  1. 1

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by John C Maxwell, Melissa Adao, markharbert, Rob McCleland, Hannah Newlin and others. Hannah Newlin said: Awesome post on priorities, success and relationships http://budurl.com/y5yt […]

  2. 2
    Gonawan Sientjahjo says:

    i choose deep connection with those i love ! ^^

  3. 3
    Greg Baird says:

    Awesome, John! Serving on your staff at Skyline was the most significant “career advancement” step I could possibly have taken. It has led to a lifetime of learning & growing, much of it because of your example not only in ministry & leadership, but also in family & relationships. Thanks for the continued distant mentoring! Greg

  4. 4

    Wow, John that was such an eye opener! I’m gonna print this out, re-read it, and share it with my husband… This really hit close to home, and some of these things you mentioned here, like making special time with my family and not having interuptions is something I really need to work on! Thank you SOO much for your guidance, and opening my eyes, sometimes you don’t realize how much time you spend doing ‘work’

  5. 5
  6. 6
    Shaun says:

    Love this article John. It has such a deep meaning for me as I am still in a new marriage of 3 years. We are building a business together and our relationship and family is at the forefront. We teach this and make sure our team knows this as well because it’s important. Sometimes we can get caught up in the day to day activities of life however we need to sometimes take a step back and evaluate where our priorities are.

    You are such an amazing servant leader and the world is very lucky to have someone like you in it.

  7. 7
    Christy Moosa says:

    To me the greatest success and goal of my life is the find what is that I have been created for? Jesus said that you are to love the Lord your God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself. Therefore, I was created for a reationship with God, and He has given me gifts to use for His glory here on earth for good works that He has prepared beforehand that I should walk in; so success for me would be to…
    1. Walk with God in personal relationship
    2. Work with God, using the gifts to serve
    3. Walk in relationship w others that is pleasing to Him to bring edification to those around me
    4. Willingly submit to His growth in my life that I may be more like Him, changing for glory to glory that He may use and work through me.

    If I seek first His kingdom and righteousness all the other things will be added. My all result in my life and success bring glory unto Him as my Lord and Savior.

  8. 8
    Christy Moosa says:

    To me the greatest success and goal of my life is the find what is that I have been created for? Jesus said that you are to love the Lord your God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself.

    Therefore, I was created for a reationship with God, and He has given me gifts to use for His glory here on earth for good works that He has prepared beforehand that I should walk in; so success for me would be to…

    1. Walk with God in personal relationship
    2. Work with God, using the gifts to serve
    3. Walk in relationship w others that is pleasing to Him to bring edification to those around me
    4. Willingly submit to His growth in my life that I may be more like Him, changing for glory to glory that He may use and work through me.

    If I seek first His kingdom and righteousness all the other things will be added. My all result in my life and success bring glory unto Him as my Lord and Savior.

  9. 9
    Yvonne Green says:

    To be the greatest success is to hear other people say “Now you can tell that came from God.”
    Success is :
    Surrender myself daily to God
    Serve others w.o expecting anything in return
    Have God talk more to me as a friend as each day goes by.
    Be a God–chaser
    To have more outpours of the Holy Spirit
    To be a blessing to the one that God has set aside for me

  10. 10
    Shalini says:

    Great post. There are rare people who after reaching the top can say that family is more important than money or position. John you are an amazing child of God. God bless you.

  11. 11
    samuel adarsh says:

    amazing teachings ive been blessd

  12. 12
    samuel adarsh says:

    u r really a mighty men of god

  13. 13
    Eddie Howden says:

    It is difficult to consistently value your loved ones as one should. For if you can do that, your success story will always include them as they are part of who you are.

  14. 14
    vishwas manmode says:

    I am always blessed by your inspirational teaching and messages

  15. 15
    Barb Giglio says:

    I love your statement, “Success means having those closest to me love and respect me the most”. No matter what life brings us if we can keep that phrase alive in good times and bad, that’s being successful to me. Thank you for being “great”! :)

  16. 16
    Bornett Mototo says:

    Very informative I guess this is very good indeed

  17. 17
    Gift kanyenze says:

    This is very inspirational. John this is applicable anywhere in the world even here in Zimbabwe the message is clear and very relevant.Thank you a million times

  18. 18
    Clóvis Batista (Brazil, Curitiba) says:

    Muito boa esta troca de experiências e a chave ao meu ver para tudo isto acontecer é a DECISÃO, quando decido, toma uma posição caminho na direção do propósito, do alvo.

    Parabéns

  19. 19
    Charles says:

    Thank you so much Mr.Maxwell for this wonderful post. It brought things back into perspective for me and my life…

    God Bless You

  20. 20
    Masinde Andrew says:

    Your literature has diverted me from the path of failure to a path of success. You have not affected me alone, even my posterity has for eternity been positively affected. Surely, no word in vocabulary can express my gratitude!

  21. 21
    Elizabeth Ann Yoder says:

    What an incredible post! I really appreciate your definition of success and your explanation of how to develop family values and solve problems. You’ve given me so much to think about and share with others! Thanks so much for such wonderful insights! May God continue to bless you and your family!

  22. 22
    Rev. Benjamin Makore says:

    Your articles are very helpful for teaching leadrs in the church. My church has been transformed by these great messages.

    Thank you.

  23. 23
    Muzzammil Ahmad Syed says:

    Thanks for the article John! … to me success is how many people you help in your life time to achieve their goals and enable their lives … a successful man is one who serves as a resource for a mankind! who contribute something to everyone he met in his life …

  24. 24
    Mark Clark says:

    John, thanks for reminding us of the importance of balance in life–beginning in our relationships. I love the capsilization of the thought.
    Several years ago I was asked to submit my “philosophy of ministry”. I knew what it was, but had never written it out for others. It is simply Acts 1:8 and the 5 concentric circles of relationships it creates–Love Christ–be my witness; Love family–Jerusalem; Love church/faith community–Judea; Love community–Samaria (so similar, but so different); Love kingdom work–utter most parts of the world.
    This has helped me maintain perspective and priorities. Starting with Jesus as the center, I move outward in relationships. My first ministry is my family–if that ministry isn’t healthy, then all else is weakened or ineffective.
    Thanks for encouraging and challenging us with your words.

  25. 25
    Paul Peterson says:

    A new view of success I have not seen before. John’s comments have caused me to reflect on how I need to redefine success.

    This post should be required reading for those considering marriage.

  26. 26
    Martin O says:

    Indeed RELATIONSHIPS are the key to success in in life. I hope to have good relationship with God, Self and Others.

  27. 27
    Martin O says:

    A great one from Maxwell. To God be the glory!

  28. 28

    Excellent post. I reflected on the content and made some immediate changes. Thanks.

  29. 29

    Nice reminder to keep nurturing our marriages. A A stable relationship is the foundation for a happy family.

  30. 30
    Brenda Botha (Meyers) says:

    Hi John i thank God for u , i am new on ur website and i learn alot , May God continue to bless u more, I gain alot of knowledge on ur website, keep on doing ur best for the kingdom of God.

  31. 31
    Brenda Botha (Meyers) says:

    Hi John thanks for ur articles they are a blessing and i learn alot , God is using u mightely. Thanks alot Mr. John.

  32. 32
    Terry Smith says:

    Great Post John, I totally agree and I am encouraged by what you said…apprciate you, Terry :-)

  33. 33
    Vera Archilla says:

    Fantastic post!! Thanks John.

  34. 34

    Well said, John! This is THE MOST important lesson on leadership. Life cannot be kept “in balance” but it must be properly ordered according to right priorities!

  35. 35
    Ferdinand says:

    This is success according to me: 2 Timithy 4:6-8
    For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

  36. 36

    John,

    As always, your posts add so much to my life. Just a btw…I remember you when you were a pastor in Lemon Grove, CA in 1989. I remember seeing you in a living Christmas tree presentation.

    Anyway, your definition of success is spot on. Including, review your check book and calendar for what you deem of value and important in your life. That really is the ultimate gauge of importance in your life.

    As we baby boomers grow older gracefully all of us are redefining success and the purpose of our lives.

    Thanks for the great post.

    Mark

  37. 37

    Success is seeking and following God. Have faith and let God determine your priorities, decisions and actions. Trust Him to provide for everything. Love others. It’s that simple.

  38. 38
    Steve says:

    Success is seeking and following God. Have faith and let God determine your priorities, decisions and actions. Trust Him to provide for everything. Love others. It’s that simple.

  39. 39
    Ryan Jenkins says:

    Solid John!
    I got chills reading your definition of success. I wish everyone had that view.

    It’s all about taking the time to reflect and re-prioritize. You do that so well and I work hard to do the same.
    It’s crucial to develop the true north objective so you can establish the “non-negiotables”.

    Incredible as always. Thank you John!

  40. 40
    Sam Oyewo says:

    Hi John, that was awesome!
    Everyone rise and fall with relationships. God first, my family second, others, ministry/ kingdom enterprise, Career, etc follows.
    Don’t mortgage your family at expense of your career, ministry, money,fame, etc
    I and my family shall be for signs and wonders !