What does success mean to you?
But what does all that really mean?
Dictionary definitions of success have no real relevance to us in the real world because at the end of the day each of us will have our own definition of success.
It is a very open-ended question but throughout this article we’re going to try and steer you in the direction of an answer.
Whether you are looking to define personal success, answer the question for a potential employer or determine what financial success means.
We will also give you some sample answers for that tricky interview question, what does success mean to you?
Why do we define success?
It is very easy for us to look at others who we perceive to be successful people and compare their situation to our own life.
But why do people measure success? And is it a healthy thing to do?
Firstly, I think that for a lot of people the quest for success is a natural instinct. Human beings thrive off competition and ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ or overtaking them is part of our inner being.
Secondly, we as humans get immense satisfaction from setting ourselves personal goals and achieving them. In fact our brain actually rewards us for completing such goals by way of the feel good chemical dopamine.
Lastly, the consumerist society that we live in, in the Western world promotes the vision of a successful person or successful life as one which has lots of money, power and influence.
We are bombarded by messages from companies, influencers and our peers on a regular basis about how a strong work ethic will have a positive impact on our lives and bring us success in the conventional ‘money and fame’ sense.
How do you define success ? 3 Different definitions of success
This is perhaps the most visible area of success. Looking at people who have a lot of money and judging them as successful is an easy go to.
If we look at people like Warren Buffett or Bill Gates, it is easy to see them as successful because they are backed up by a track record of profitable investments.
What we should be wary of, is viewing success in terms of material goods. The material goods someone has doesn’t necessarily correspond to the amount of money that they have and many people get caught in a debt cycle trying to prove that they have money.
Your own success in this area depends on your goals and the sky really is the limit. Financial success could be having a billion dollars in the bank or it could be having zero debt.
I’d suggest setting your financial goals to a place where you can do things on your own terms without being beholden to anyone. That’s certainly where mine are set!
Job candidates will often be asked what success means to them.
It is one of the common questions in a job interview where the hiring manager will want to get a sense of the candidate’s overall personality and ambitions.
We will give a specific example of how to answer this below but for now let’s talk about what professional success could mean.
Regardless of what type of job you have, whether you are a factory worker, butcher, baker or world leader you should have some reason for wanting to be there.
Some people will view professional success by how much money they can and fill their bank account with, others will want to make a positive difference to the world around them.
This is why we have people working for corporations on big bucks and others working for charities, because their motivating factors are different.
If you put in maximum effort in your professional capacity then your work performance will reflect this and your professional development will follow suit.
Success in your personal life
This aspect is perhaps the hardest to define as it is your own personal definition of success.
When it comes to finances and work it can be quite easy to set yourself generic goals but personal success really is down to what your core values are.
You may feel that having a healthy family and your own house defines real success. Or, it might mean more simple things such as being able to move on from past experiences and live life with peace of mind.
It might seem like a cop out of an answer but success on a personal level really is your own version of success, whatever that may be.
How to answer the job interview question: What does success mean to you?
The question above is one of the most commonly asked and one which often stumps candidates.
Do they want me to list the company’s values? Am I allowed to talk about financial success? Should I really say what my greatest success is or is this a trick?
Pay close attention because we’re going to steer you in the right direction for how to answer this and avoid giving the wrong answer.
- Remember that when an employer asks you what your meaning of success is, they are making sure that you’re a good fit for the company culture and that your goals align with the company’s goals.
For this reason it is very important that as preparation for the interview, you understand the company’s mission.
Remember, the bottom line is that whatever answer you give should easily fit with the company’s vision in the mind of the interviewer.
1.More than likely they will also want to know that you are driven to achieve both individual and team goals.
Therefore you should definitely avoid appearing self-centered by saying that you are solely motivated by making money. ‘
This is unlikely to win you any favours, as even in a recruitment or sales team, you will be expected to have a collaborative vision.
2. Stay focussed on linking your definition of success to how that fits in with the company’s objectives. Personal anecdotes are a fantastic way of bringing your examples to life but remember to keep them relevant to the job in front of you.
With this in mind, try not to overshare, talking too much about personal feelings can make other people feel awkward and when you have your dream job on the other side of the table.
3. Be honest, interviewers are human beings too and they will have the capacity to understand if you are telling lies or not.
Plus, if you get the job then you don’t want to be carrying that sort of baggage around with you.
We’re all up for offering creative solutions to questions but telling lies isn’t the right way to do things.
4. Keep it snappy, nobody wants to hear your entire life story so keep your answer short, sweet and to the point.
Roughly 1-2 minutes is ample time to get your point across and impress the hell out of that interviewer.
Any longer and you will come across as the type of person who loves the sound of their own voice. Not cool.