A couple of years back I was speaking to a small group of people and my opening question to them was, “What is your personal definition of success?” The answers I got were amazing. Here are some of them in no particular order;

Making a lot of money
Running a Fortune 500 company
Having enough to help me take good care of myself and family
Being able to travel the world in my own private jet, owning an expensive house, cars and a yacht

And much more. Bottom-line is success will always mean different things to different people because we all have different worldviews. Personal success is very subjective as it depends on the inherent values imbued in every individual. For some they believe a good looking bank account will settle it for them. For some people they find their success in the success of others while for another lot it’s in the shiny things. This varies from individual to individual. In my opinion I see success as wrapped up in three things. You can call them the 3 P’s. People, Planet, Profits. Let’s break it down;

People– Everyone I can influence for the Kingdom using the gifts and graces I have been endowed with by our Heavenly Father. I am a people person. My desire is to see people move from point A to point B because of the value I added to their lives. It gives me joy to see someone who was weak in an area which happened to be one of my strengths grow to become a better person as a result of my positive influence upon their lives. There is nothing more fulfilling than a life of service. And the reason why I put people first is because if you genuinely make it your aim to add value to people, profits will undoubtedly come pouring in like an avalanche. No one who serves goes empty handed unless they never did it out of a pure heart. The mistake many people make is that they try to do things for people with the mindset that those same people will in turn return a good favor. Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! It doesn’t work like this. Most times the people who end up giving back to you are never the people you helped. If you run a business my advice to you is that you put people first and profits will come. That’s why customer service is so important. If you suck at service delivery (leading to disgruntled customers) you will begin to lose market share and hence profit share to your competitors. On the other hand one satisfied customer might just be your ticket to your next top notch job. So put people first!

Planet– Being able to make a positive impact on my community during my lifetime and beyond it. Many companies today are making huge profits at the expense of their communities. We have seen places that have been ravaged by deforestation. We have seen communities that have been torn apart due to oil exploration. We have seen people living in very rich communities yet staying very poor because of the profit-focused motives of an elite few. The younger generation must be educated. Schools therefore have to be built to that effect. Orphanages for orphans, Homes for the homeless, and much more.

Profits– Having money, I mean enough money or better still more than enough money to take care of myself, family and those around me in need. Money is a medium of exchange and a very important agent in today’s world. Having delivered excellent service and added value to people’s lives, provided and taken good care of one’s community, making some good profits then would not be a bad idea. You need money to build roads, fight malaria and cancer, feed the hungry, take care of widows, in fact you need money for everything. However, money must be gotten the right way. Not by defrauding people or every other illicit scheme but through providing valuable service in exchange for it. Everybody wants to live a good life as well as leave an inheritance for their children’s children (generational thinkers) but we must get it the right way. There is nothing absolutely wrong with making good money.

Now the next question that crops up is, “how do we achieve success?” Good question. In my opinion there are two ways to do this. I describe them as the Linear path and the Non-linear path. Let’s look at the linear path for a moment.

I think we are all aware of this path and can by ourselves also craft out linear equations for other fields. It’s the conventional path. It is the path our parents told us to follow if we ever wanted to make anything out of our lives. “Stay in school, get good grades and become a Medical Doctor, Lawyer, Banker, Accountant, Engineer and what have you.” For those who love playing it safe, it is the best path to take. Is it a rewarding path? Yes, it is. There are people who have made a fortune by following the linear career path. If you know your onions then you can command very fat paychecks. However, I do advise against the payday mentality where people end up living from paycheck to paycheck without any significant investments towards their future. It won’t hurt to have multiple streams of income. In fact that’s the right thing to do! I have seen people leave from paid employment after putting in decades and decades of service only to end up as broke as the word itself. Depending on a salary is not the best way to live out one’s life because you will always be at the mercy of your employers. However, with some financial wisdom, you can make the most of the paid employment system and still retire to a very comfortable life.

Our second path which I call “The road less travelled” because it is no surefire way to success is the non-linear career path. It starts off with a dream, a passion, call it whatever you want to call it but that thing that tells you, “There’s gotta be more to life”, Yes to make a dent in history, to disrupt an entire industry, to blaze new trails, to make a difference in life. As you can see they too are very much educated but that happens not necessarily within the four walls of classroom for the word Education comes from the latin root word, “ēdūcō” which means to grow from within and has nothing to do with BSc’s, GPAs, MSc’s, PhDs or MBA’s. However, getting a good degree especially in this part of the world won’t hurt either. For such people, passion fans the flames of innovation while creativity ignites that passion. If the end could be determined from the beginning, many more would sure follow this route because it’s exit has written on it “Financial independence”. Meaning you don’t have to suck up, lick up or tolerate anyone’s naughtiness. It also truly affords one the time to focus on the things that truly matter to you while having a good time with the people that matter most-Family. Unfortunately, it is a path also overlaid with so many sorrows, disappointments, failures and risks. It is not for the weak in heart. It is not for the one who’s focus is on the immediate. But in the end you are always the better for it. These are the people who control the financial and money markets. These are the people who create jobs and grow economies. These are the people who make things happen rather than watch things happen to them. Whichever of the two paths you choose is entirely up to you.