I have a hard time defining success, specifically when it comes to my work. It seems like any enterprise that gets 40+ hours of my life each week should be setting me up for tangible success. There should be promotion, challenge, and a sense of pride and accomplishment. But what if there isn’t? What if you feel pretty much invisible at work; no one is recognizing you, let alone promoting you? Does that mean you’re not succeeding? If success isn’t measured by achievements, then how is it measured?

These are questions I’ve wrestled with regarding my career for the past few years, and here are a few questions I’ve been using to gauge my success:

1) Am I showing up? This might sound silly, but the first requirement to success in just about any arena is simply to show up, to be present, to do the work. Daily I am astounded by how many people defeat themselves by not showing up.

2) Am I learning and growing, improving my knowledge and skills?

3) Am I consistently doing good work? Anyone can show off and dazzle when seeking attention and rewards, but the work you do day in and day out speaks to your character.

4) Am I cheering on others and supporting them? Am I doing my best to help my team succeed?

Each day I strive to be able to answer these questions in the positive. I feel that if I can do that, I am giving myself the very best chance at true success, whether or not it comes with recognition or promotion.

Let me share a great scripture on the subject: “Exaltation comesneither from the east nor from the west nor from the south. But God isthe Judge: He puts down one, and exalts another.” 1

That’s not to say I have no ambition for growth or greater opportunity, but I’m learning to focus on the part I can control, my attitude and my performance, and trust God for the rest. I would hate to cheat myself out of the growth God wants for me because I’m putting an inflated value on tangible success.

  1. Psalm 75:6–7