author, HuffPost contributor, inspirational speaker, professor, project/program leader, social entrepreneur, and radio host

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Success: Are You Chasing the Right Version of It?   



Success is something that’s wanted, pursued, and sometimes needed for someone to feel accomplished, good about themselves, and in some cases important.  If success is the objective, then the measurement must be tangible --- or does it?

Usual measures of success are typically tied to someone’s finances, possessions, position level, or social circle.  The first two (finances and possessions) surely have a quantifiable measurement; the last two (position level and social circle) have perceived values.

Success is often associated with things that can be seen or experienced.  However, what if success is really more about intrinsic or communal values?  Intrinsic value reflects the way an individual feels about themselves, whereas communal value is about an individual’s contributions to their community (specifically) and society (generally).

Examples of intrinsic value:
* Attitude - positive feelings about themselves;
* Behavior - taking positive actions to achieve goals and objectives;
* Belief - the way an individual feels about themselves;
* Confidence - positive beliefs in an individual’s capabilities;
* Forward-Thinking - thoughts about future possibilities;
* Projections - the display of feelings of self-worth.

Evaluations of intrinsic value:
* Comparisons - assessment of capabilities in respect to others;
* Observations - visual appearance of noticeable actions or activities;
* Others’ Views - amount of regard held for someone;
* Self-Reflection - analysis about the way someone feels about themselves.

Examples of communal value:
* Common Goals- working toward collective benefits;
* Open Support System - visible and non-competitive support;
* Shared Contributions - willingly adding to the development of the system.

Evaluations of communal value:
* Communication Channels - number of connections that exist among members;
* Retention - ability to attract and maintain members;
* Support Systems - methods to interact with supportive members.

Individual accomplishments (e.g., finances, possessions, position level) are personal measurements of success, but these aren’t the ultimate measures of it.  Success begins with internal feelings and considerations individuals have about themselves.  It’s further developed by external contributions that provide tangible measurements.  The contributory value of success is demonstrated by the ways intrinsic and communal values are connected to create societal impacts or changes.

Individuals who primarily pursue external success without a complete development of their intrinsic values don’t truly maximize their potential.  Conversely, someone who pursues communal value already (in some ways) realizes that “true” success extends well-beyond personal accomplishments to create opportunities for societal growth and development.

It’s important that definitions of success are tied to collective gains versus solely individual accomplishments, which can increase opportunities for more individuals to benefit from actions that have societal benefits.