How to Define Success By Making A Difference

One of my clients, LinkedIn, has a mission of transformation: they aspire to transform individuals, the company, and the world- this is how they define success.

I love this mission, and I’m not the only one.

The people it applies to, all employees from the top down, appreciate it and live by it.

Thus, this mission has breathed tremendous pride throughout the entire organization.

This is because at the heart of the mission is a valuable contribution.

Research shows it’s not money or a title that first keeps people in a job but the feeling that they have contributed something meaningful.

Most everyone wants to feel like they have made a difference in their company or impacted people’s lives for the better.

For this reason, contrary to popular belief, the feeling of being successful is not determined by wealth or power.

While these things are attractive to a lot of people, I have found from my experience talking with and coaching some of the most important business leaders around the globe that meaningful work, work/life balance, and being able to work a job that brings you joy are keys to success.

How to Define Success Around Making A Difference

Achieving true success comes down to fulfilling 4 Ls:

Love: Do you have love in your life?

Do you have family, friends, and children you love, and they love you back?

Learn: Are you growing your skills and competencies?

Are you continually challenged with new tasks, content, or projects?

Or are you bored at work doing the same thing every day?

Living: Are you making an adequate living?

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Can you support yourself and your family or those in your immediate surroundings that need help?

Leaving a legacy: Are you contributing something meaningful?

Are you leaving your mark on your company or loved ones?

You won’t feel successful if you don’t feel like your life is balanced regarding the 4 Ls.

Looking closely at what motivates you (and others) can help you fulfill these Ls.

Motivation is complex.

People are motivated by different things.

If someone says they are motivated by family—what does that really mean?

Are they motivated because they want to impress their family, provide for their family, or spend time with their family?

To be a good motivator for yourself and others, you need to cut to the core of what motivates you.

In the 1970s, psychologist Edward Deci ran an experiment showing how incentivizing students with money to solve puzzles made them less interested in working on them after being paid.

Meanwhile, another group of students who hadn’t been offered money worked on the puzzles longer and with more interest.

This study showed the difference between two types of motivators–intrinsic, which is tied to core values, and extrinsic, which is linked to external rewards.

Keeping in tune with your intrinsic motivators and your employees will help bring you true success.

This is part of how to define success by making a difference.

The Three Components of Intrinsic Motivation

According to Daniel Pink in his book Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us, there are three components to achieving optimal intrinsic motivation:

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Autonomy: Our self-direction is a natural inclination.

Think of children who want to do things by themselves.

We all are born with an inner drive.

Mastery: We want to get better at doing something.

It’s why learning a language or an instrument can be so frustrating at first.

If you feel like you’re not getting anywhere, your interest flags, and you may even give up.

A sense of progress, not just in our work but also in our capabilities, contributes to our inner drive.

Purpose: People who find meaning, the reason to get out of bed in the morning, in their work unlock the highest level of the motivation game.

Pink says that it’s connecting to a cause larger than yourself that drives the deepest motivation.

If you can’t achieve your 4 Ls in your career by appealing to these three motivators, you can look outside your work to fill the void.

For example, you can volunteer for a cause you feel passionate about, such as at a soup kitchen or animal shelter, to leave a legacy.

Or, you can learn by getting a tutor, taking courses, or training.

For example, I recently picked up piano lessons for a new challenge.

Fulfilling these elements of intrinsic motivation will not only help you on your way to success but your employees, too.

And, if you can motivate well, your employees will feel successful–and you will, too, by helping fulfill at least one of your Ls.

How do You Define Success?

What motivates you?

In what ways do you contribute to success by making a difference?

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