Ask Steve

Ask Steve: How Should I Define “Success?”

A huge trap is when we allow other people to define our success.

Hi Steve,

I know people mostly write you here about problems and how to solve them. And after reading over your “Ask Steve” columns where people have so many issues in their life, I realize I should just be grateful for what I’ve accomplished - a happy family, a comfortable life style and a smoothly functioning company.

But still I feel like I should have done more with my business and my life. So Steve, how and when did you finally realize that you were “successful?”

-Slightly Confused in San Diego


Hmmm, good question, Slightly! And my guess is you already know I’m not going to remotely give you personal success parameters! But let me share a few quotes that I use in our “Strategies for Success” seminar…

"A man is a success if he wakes up in the morning and goes to bed at night and in between he does what he wants to do." - Bob Dylan

"80% of success is showing up." - Woody Allen

"Success is going from failure to failure without a loss of enthusiasm." - Winston Churchill

"All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence; then success is sure." - Mark Twain

"Don't aim for success if you want it; just do what you love and believe in, and it will come naturally.” - Sir David Frost

"Success is following the pattern of life one enjoys the most." - Al Capp

I like all of these quotes, Slightly, since they (somewhat irreverently) follow the common pattern of each person defining their own level of success. In fact, the biggest danger I find is when we start comparing ourselves to others! The Apostle Paul summed it up rather nicely: “But let each one prove what his own work is, and then he will have cause for exultation in regard to himself alone, and not in comparison with the other person.” Galations 6:4

You see, a huge trap is when we allow other people to define our success (or lack of it) for us!

So what is my definition of success? I thought you would never ask!

"Success in business is having the financial freedom to live the rest of your life in EXACTLY the manner you choose to do so." Steve Toburen

Bear in mind, Slightly, that I put the caveat in there of "business success." I feel “total success” in life is a very personal and tricky subject. But one thing we can all agree on is that whatever your personal definition of success is, it will require lots of money to achieve it!

So, it is time for far too many cleaning and restoration contractors today to quit living the "good life" (with all their toys) and build a financially secure future!

NOTE: Download my free Special Report: Cleaning Up: Building Personal Wealth in the Cleaning Industry or just write me at for a free emailed copy.

Maybe Vidal Sassoon said it best, "The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary."

And finally success really isn't about money as much as it is about being thankful! As Sheryl Crow sang in one of her songs, "It's not getting what you's more wanting what you got!”

Respectfully and thoughtfully submitted,


P.S. OK, I just need to share one more quote from my boss at Jon-Don, “Papa Nick” Paolella: “Find a job you love and you will never work another day in your life!” Even as he is pushing 80 years of age (and with hundreds of employees) Papa Nick still shows up almost every day simply because he loves his job!

 Steve and ICS want to consult for you! For a personal reply write Steve HERE with your questions, problems, struggles and challenges! Your help is on the way! A new “Ask Steve” will appear in the ICS eNewsletter every Thursday. Register to receive it by clicking here

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