Success is the beautiful house.

Success is that promotion.

Success is the book deal.

Success is that sales pitch that blew everybody’s mind.

And that is great.

Those are great things to appreciate and cherish.


But the thing is that so often we feel like a loser when we put in the effort and don’t get those results.

Those results have become the only measure of how successful we are.

Failing to get those results equals failing.

And that leaves us powerless.  Frustrated.  Mad.  Sad.

We don’t learn and don’t give it another try, from another angle.  We are harsh on ourselves instead.

We don’t move on.  We complain about how unfair life is to us.

We don’t look for alternatives.  We get stuck in ‘how it should have been‘, ‘what they should have done’.


But the thing is that acquiring those results is so often out of our control.

They decided to sell that beautiful house to someone else.

They choose to promote our colleague.

They said no.

They were not impressed.


Imagine what would happen if we would invest in the action and not in the result.

Imagine what would happen if success would be our action instead of our result.

Talk to the owners of the house, tell them how much we love the house and bid the price that it is worth to us.  And then they get to decide.

Give it our all at work, tell our bosses why we’re such an amazing fit for that promotion and deliver that high value work with integrity and style.  And then they get to choose.

Write great content, pitch it with enthusiasm, creativity and vigor.  And then they get to see whether they think we’re a good fit for their portfolio.  Or not.

Really listen to their needs, offer them a spot-on solution to their problem and engage with them in an open conversation.  And then they get to make up their mind.


Now, don’t get me wrong.

Results are important.

Results show us what happened with the energy we put out there.

Results tell us what worked and what didn’t.

Results tell us where to adjust, refine or turn upside down.


But they are not a measure of success.

Because that would be unfair.

To us.

Letting how we see ourselves depend on external circumstances and other people.

Letting how we value ourselves depend on things that are out of our control.


Imagine what would happen if we would define our actions as a measure of success instead.

Did I give it my all?

Did I show up and take the action I wanted to?

Did I act in line with my values and who I want to be?


Imagine how different that would make us feel.

Powerful.  Excited.  Energized.


Image how different we would act.

We’d learn and give it another try, from another angle.

We’d look for alternatives.

We’d move on.




Becoming more of who we are with every step we take.

Successful at being us.

Not by accident.

But intentionally and on purpose.


Photo from here.

20 Responses to Success is the action. (Not the result.)

  1. Lin E says:

    This is just so good, An. Too often we just look to the end and ignore the means. But the means are where the fun is!

    • An says:

      And without means no end 🙂 And the more creative and groovy we get with the means, definitely the more fun and fulfillment (regardless of the outcome)!

  2. Mindy Crary says:

    Such a great reminder that we need to focus on the action and not the result . . . and as mad as I get sometimes, the result that I didn’t wish for also gives me valuable information about a misguided focus or understanding the went along with a not-quite-on-target action. Even though it’s frustrating, the lack of success we picture helps us refine out guidance system as we go.

    • An says:

      Absolutely – just observing the result (whatever it is) and checking back in with ourselves and our why (i.e. why we set out to take action and “get the result” in the first place) is so so valuable in defining the next steps and/or adjusting our goals.

  3. Gail Kenny says:

    The process is definitely as important as the outcome.

  4. Debra Smouse says:

    Too often, we look to others definition of success and ignore our own personal definition of it. And I’ve long ago learned that really embracing the whole journey in process will make the success feel sweeter and more fulfilling.

    • An says:

      That’s so true, Deb. So often we put so much energy in living out others’ definition of success (without even being aware that we are doing that). And even though we might be successful in the outside world (according to their definition), on the inside we feel unfulfilled, empty and drained. Giving ourselves permission to live our own definition of success and going that journey – with all its ups and downs – is what makes us truly thrive and feel fulfilled.

  5. This is spot on! If we did our best, if we gave it our all, then that is a form of success. The results are information, but they are not the only thing that matters. Of course, the problem with defining success through our own effort is that most of us never think we did enough. There is always one more thing we could have done, one more angle we could have considered. Knowing when we have truly done our best can be hard, but it is oh so worth it!

    • An says:

      Yessss, that’s such a good point, Joanna. “I could have done that one more thing.” is such a little nasty thought, that doesn’t point us to the way forward and just makes us feel miserable and small. That’s why I’m not a big fan of “in hindsight” evaluations, because often they are unfair to us – knowing what we know now (i.e. the result), we might have taken a different decision or action. But the thing is, we didn’t know what we know now – we just knew what we knew then and made a decision with the best of intentions. A question I often ask myself instead is “Being where I am right now, and knowing where I wanna go, what can I do next?”.

  6. An – this is one powerful post! Learning to love the journey is SO darn hard! Thanks for the reminder, we can get so lost in what others think “success” should be that we forget to define what success means to us and embrace it. I believe that as long as you give it your all, if it doesn’t quite happen the way you envisioned, get up, dust yourself off and try again. Getting crystal clear on what success means to you is key. Love this post, spot on.

    • An says:

      Absolutely, Yvette, that’s a great point. Getting clear on what success means to us and embracing our very own definition (instead of other people’s definitions) are key to experiencing success that’s really fulfilling and uplifting (instead of draining and empty).

  7. This is fantastic An. I really love how you put this. I notice myself lately looking at the results. We can get addicted to looking for the results/evidence of the work we do instead of being satisfied and proud of the effort. Great post!

    • An says:

      Yes, absolutely, that’s exactly it, Katie – we get so focused on the “I must achieve this” results that we forget to be proud of the effort and just dismiss any effort that didn’t directly *right here right now* generate that “I must achieve this” result.

  8. Adam says:

    SO important, An! Action. Action. Action. That’s all that matters. Very legit post!

  9. Blaze says:

    What if success came to us packaged in a plain brown box, would we take the time to unwrap it and treasure it? Or would we cast it off because it didn’t look the way we thought it should, would, or did?

    • An says:

      What a beautiful image, Blaze! Imagine all the plain brown boxes that remain unopened because we think they didn’t look like they should…

  10. Kathi says:

    An… Another inspiring and insightful post. Thank you for you perspectives and for sharing another way to BE.. Thanks!!!

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