Once upon a time, I worked at an ad agency that was special. We will get to why they were special shortly, but first we must look at what it is that defines success for most companies.
Most companies define success in two unique ways. One, they define success on how much business is coming in. What the sales are like, how much of their product or service is being consumed, and what the projection of this consumption is. Second, and perhaps most importantly, success is defined by the satisfaction of those who consume the product or service. Oftentimes, this measure of success is tied not only to how many customers are buying things and having a good experience, but the support over the long term for those who have already purchased goods or services.
The auto business understands the long-term relationship particularly well, even if they don’t always follow best practices. Their long-term support centers around a warranty on a car or some perk from maintaining the car at a certain dealer. The bottom line is always this: How you treat customers after the sale can mean more than making the sale in the first place. This can determine how likely they are to recommend the product or service to a friend and how likely they are to use the product or service over a period of time. Ultimately, this boils down to one thing: happiness.
So, back to this special agency I worked at … they were special in that their leadership defined success in a way that I had never encountered before. It wasn’t joy. It wasn’t inspiration. It wasn’t elation. Or long-term customer satisfaction. It was the most peculiar definition of success I had ever encountered.
Their definition of their success was a glum unhappiness.
Defining success and rewarding it with misery might seem counter-intuitive. And it might seem rare. But, you would be surprised. I imagine a fair amount of folks reading this are stuck in environments like the one I am describing: toxic. What are toxic environments? Toxic environments are ones that do not define success in joy. And, as you might imagine, toxic environments breed bad moods from staff; culture of dark conspiracy and weak staff mixed in with strong staff resulting in a half rotten brew.
So it all comes down to how we define success.
The Creator Mindset – as most of you readers already know – is a shift in thinking that activates a part of the brain we have neglected for a while. It is the part that deals with problem-solving creatively. We have spent so much time building up the analytical side of our brain through common discourse that we have distanced ourselves from another way of thinking. We ignore the opportunity to unite both hemispheres of the brain, the analytical and the creative – precisely the shift needed to find happiness.
This agency with the odd definition of success made me think of all the different ways that people define success. Most times, it is tied to money – the making of it, the accrual of it, or even the spending of it. But, according to the Creator Mindset, the definition of success is directly correlated to what you deem as being successful. And it is defined in personal terms – not in terms that someone else might have for us. It is about understanding that success means different things to different people. It is about knowing that different people produce different efforts and the success of each effort must be analyzed based on what the person is capable of, not by what you have predetermined.
But, ultimately, at the end of the day, success is defined by happiness. That’s it. Just happiness. An infectious joy that spreads from the baker to her customers, from the housewife to her children, from the landscape artist and his love for growing things, from the accountant and her love of numbers, from the ad agency executive to clients who trust him with the sanctity of their brand.
I wish I could tell you that this ad company with the toxic environment went out of business. But no, they’re still kicking and alive. They burn and turn through staff barely making it to the next day. It’s a shame, really, because just one simple will to define success by a yardstick that matters would yield a much more fruitful business, better employees, that holy grail of better culture, and a better business built on attributes that at the end elevate everyone – no matter what it is you do at your chosen work. It’s attending to your business each day with joy. It’s about defining success with happiness.