“Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.” –Albert Einstein

Steve Jobs said, “We live in a noisy world.” Ain’t that the truth. We also live in a competitive world. A world where “if you win, I lose.” “I need to get ‘my piece of the pie’!” “I gotta be better than you!” “It’s a race to the top!” “Success = $$$$$!” “I NEED more stuff!” “It’s all about ME!!”

OK, I think I made my point. When we line them all up like that, it’s pretty easy to see that it’s total nonsense. I’m pretty sure I’ve never read these statements outright in any business book, philosophy book, success magazine, Facebook or Twitter post AND YET we have all bought into this thinking it’s gospel.

choir image via shutterstock

Dictionary.com defines success as:

1. the favorable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavors.

2. the attainment of wealth, position, honors, or the like.

I think it’s high time we expand and redefine!

I suppose we equate what we earn to our own personal worth. I think that’s sad. There are so many more interesting things about you than how much money you make. What do you believe? What do you stand for? What contributions have you made? What are your natural gifts? What are you creating? We are all unique and interesting and we all matter!

A few years ago when I was still selling real estate, I had a vision. A vision of a new way of doing business. One where I would build a team with other like-minded agents each working in a part of the business where their natural strengths lay. Someone who was detail-oriented and loved administrative tasks. Someone who was tech-savvy and could manage our Web and SEO. Someone who had an eye for design. Someone who LOVED showing properties and working with buyers, etc.

Everyone on the team would be joyful because they were matched with their skill set, while collaborating and making a contribution to something bigger than themselves. I believed that the isolation of working independently was not only lonely, but ineffective, as time and money was wasted on tasks that were not in their skill set.

And so I partnered and built “RedBarn Group.” I personally loved marketing and branding, and spent a great deal of time on the “visioning” aspect and the values. In my mind we were building a company — a company that would “inspire” and attract other like-minded agents AND customers and clients, as well as ultimately making a difference in the world of real estate. I was on a mission to REDEFINE SUCCESS!

RedBarn Group dissolved within a year. I learned so much from that failed attempt. WHO you partner with is vitally important, and everyone must make a commitment. Everyone involved must believe and be willing to sacrifice and have realistic expectations, and you must have a shared vision. Starting any new venture takes time and money and patience. Period. And even in failure there is success.

During our very short time in business, we had many inquiries curious about what we were building — wanting to know if we were going to be a brokerage, and wanting to know how to get involved.

What did I glean from that? That agents, like me, were desperate to belong to something they could BELIEVE in. A brand that inspired them. A mission that fulfilled their need to do something that mattered.

RedBarn’s tag line was: “Real People. Real Values. Real Estate.” We believed that the client wanted to be empowered to help himself. Treated with respect and acknowledge that our expertise was in providing context to the information he already had access to, and in our knowledge of the marketplace and how local deals were playing out.

So I never did figure out the business model that would work for a team, but I still believe in the vision, and I definitely still believe in defining my own success on my terms. With failure comes a new perspective, and what I learned was that even though RedBarn Group ultimately failed, I identified something far more valuable. I identified a passion. A passion for inspiring agents and returning the joy of doing business into their lives and helping them redefine what success means to them.

What I find FAR more valuable than money is TIME! Time with my family, time with my friends, time to explore the world and ideas, and time to have conversations that matter. There is nothing wrong with the attainment of money or “success” — I just believe it’s a rather limiting view. I encourage you to measure success with some other guidelines as well:

1. Are you having any FUN?

If you’re so busy working that you have no time for your family or friends or activities that feed your soul, then how successful are you really?

2. How’s your HEALTH?

Check your stress-o-meter; many agents I know struggle with this one.

3. Do you know when to say NO?

So many of us seem to feel as if we must take on everything. You’re no good to anyone when you’re overstretched.

4. Are you SPENDING too much?

Yep. Financial freedom really does make a difference. When we don’t have to worry about money, then many things are easier — but we don’t have to be rich. Have you identified exactly how much it would take to free you from the worry? Do you have a separate business account? Are you working on eliminating your debt? Have you identified your “must-haves”? Living big does not equal success.

5. How are your RELATIONSHIPS?

Are you giving your loving relationships as much energy and time as your business? We are truly rich when we have healthy relationships.

6. Are you personally FULFILLED?

Do you feel like you’re making a difference? Are you able to spend time “creating” or are you just going through the motions?

7. Do your goals INSPIRE you?

What’s your “WHY” for doing what you do? Investigate your purpose and get clear. Create something you can be proud of. Leave a legacy. (And a great chocolate chip cookie recipe can be it, if that’s what inspires you!)

8. Are you living your TRUTH?

Not being honest with yourself or others is toxic. Embrace who you really are. Learn to own your strengths AND your weaknesses. There is only one you and no one can live it better than you!

9. Have you clearly defined your VALUES?

Do you know what you stand for? Do others? Sharing what you believe will help you gain clarity and draw like-minded people to you and give you a sense of community and purpose. Standing for something is powerful.

10. Be HAPPY.

I don’t care what anyone says, but if you’re not happy most of the time, then something is off! Time to reassess. Sometimes a new perspective is all that is required.

happy image via shutterstock

Life truly is a journey. If you’re waiting to “get there,” you’ll never be satisfied. Find pleasure in every day and celebrate your small successes — like crossing one thing off that list, creating something, enjoying that glass of wine or having conversations that matter!

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