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Personal versus Business Success

Success does not consist in never making mistakes, but in never making the same one a second time.

~ George Bernard Shaw


Success is defined as,



suc·​cess sək-ˈses 

1a   degree or measure of succeeding

1b   favorable or desired outcome

also: the attainment of wealth, favor, or eminence

Personal Success

In today’s culture, personal success is inwardly focused first.

It is finding peace and love with oneself and then secondly with humanity.

Success is when you reach your aim or purpose.

Successful people have achieved their greatest desires in life and their career.  While many people define success as being wealthy or famous, there is no single way to determine whether someone is successful.

What’s important, supposedly, is that you have your own definition of success and are actively working toward your goals.  Throughout your life and career, what success means to you is likely to change.

Trying to be successful is a lifelong journey that requires purpose and focus.  It is mastering one’s emotions and trying to purposely fuel your mind with “good emotions” and habits like empathy, contentedness, joy, peace, love, and happiness.

It is always “you” first.

Business and Entrepreneurial Success

Individuals start businesses for different reasons.  Whatever the reason, your goal will be to have a successful business.

According to Google, the definition of success is ‘the accomplishment of a specific purpose or aim.’ So, depending on your goals, success can come in many forms.  Although most start businesses for monetary gain, this is not always the case.  Wealth is not the only way to achieve success.

Some views of business success include:

  1. Happiness – doing something satisfying that’s worth more than any monetary value.
  2. Reaching a goal – income, a cause, free time, independence.
  3. Doing what you love – possibly a hobby turned into a career.
  4. Making a difference – supporting a global cause or focusing on individuals.
  5. Maintaining balance – allowing time for family, exercise, friends, and hobbies.
  6. State-of-Mind – how you feel at the end of the day.


It is easy to see how conflicts between personal success and corporate success arise.

Personal success is me-centric, and business success, which is still me-centric, is focused on the goals and performance of others.  The business’s mission may conflict politically, emotionally, or environmentally with personal objectives—corporate management occasionally focuses on issues that contradict personal opinions.

How to Manage Business and Personal Success

We all want to be successful.

And we all want the businesses we work for or own to be successful.

So, here are several thoughts on how to achieve both.

Understand goals early – for personal success, you must have defined goals and objectives.  Likewise, successful businesses also must have defined goals and objectives.  There should be no surprise partway through your career that a conflict exists between the two.

Use your leverage – Most of us eventually find ourselves in a leadership position.  As a result, there are opportunities to exert influence on corporate goals.  For example, you are anti-tobacco.  When given a chance, you can push for anti-tobacco policies (such as investing and smoking on corporate premises) within your business management structure.

Attitude – you need to decide if your goals for personal success take absolute priority over everything else.  Or is there a level of success that is acceptable?  For example, are you willing to be passed over for higher management positions in exchange for more free time?

Sabotage – don’t intentionally sabotage your personal success or the business’s success.  If this seems an option, it’s time to find a new job.

The Bible

Success in the Bible is more about how people define success than the act of success itself.
When it comes to having lots of money, the Bible says that God is the one who makes someone wealthy.  Proverbs 22:2 states,

“Rich and poor have this in common: The Lord is the Maker of them all.”

Note that the writer doesn’t say, “Maker of both.” Instead, he says, “Maker of them all.”  The declaration here is that God is the giver of all things to all people.

Regarding the skills and abilities that lead to success in various fields, we see the same emphasis in the Bible—God is the giver.  Consider 1 Corinthians 4:7,

“For who makes you to differ from anyone else?  What do you have that you have not received?”

These questions imply that our abilities and skills come from God.
How about the issue of influence and power?  In John 19:11, after Pilate tells Jesus that he (Pilate) has the power to free Him or crucify Him, Jesus replies,

“You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.”

So even earthly authority, by which some measure success, is a gift from God.
Finally, we need to see that success by itself is a gift from God.  John 3:37 says,

“A man can receive only what is given him from heaven.”

If anyone can do anything defined as “successful,” it is only because God has given them that ability.

Business leaders and entrepreneurs need to recognize that success—personal and business—is gifted by God.  Their responsibility is to use the gifts they have been given to the best of their abilities.