What’s the definition of success? It’s something so many people want to achieve, and yet can struggle to articulate when asked what it is they actually want.

Here are three definitions of success that I find really helpful or stimulating:

  1. John Maxwell says that “success is the progressive realisation of a previously determined goal.” So many people see the concept of being successful as being based on luck, like winning a lottery ticket. Maxwell teaches us that success is about setting a worthwhile goal, and then achieving it.
  2. Simon Sinek suggests a difference between achievement and success. In his thinking, achievement happens when we fulfil a goal or a program that we’ve established, whilst success happens when we fulfil our underlying purpose or cause. So achievements are good, but only become success when they link with our own sense of personal fulfilment.
  3. But here’s a definition that came to me a few days ago. Success is:
  • Doing something you are really good at and enjoy,
  • With a group of people you like and respect,
  • In the fulfilment of some cause you care deeply about.


In this last definition of success, it’s all about finding your niche as part of a wider group that together are doing something really worthwhile. This to me is what success is about. And it builds on the two previous definitions of success by adding in that third dimension of community – of working together with people you get on well with.

And this is also what leadership is really about. It’s about helping people contribute their own gifts and skills, as part of a team, to achieve a worthwhile vision. How do I know I’m being successful as a leader? When all the people on my team are excelling in their strength areas, and enjoy working together. Creating that environment means that we will start achieving great things…

Mark Williamson works as a director of One Rock. He’s an experienced leadership trainer, author of biographies on John Wesley and William Wilberforce, and is also passionate about praying for London. He enjoys good films, good food, and going for long walks with his wife Joanna. You can follow him on Twitter @markonerock.

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