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Success Is Up to You to Define for Yourself (Hint: Most of Us Have Been Doing It Wrong)

Success Is Up to You to Define for Yourself (Hint: Most of Us Have Been Doing It Wrong)

By Stacey Lindsay
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When it comes to success, what ideas have been fed to us? Maybe images of a CEO or doctor or being rich and in the spotlight come to mind. These are great things, but the problem is, for so many, success means meeting an expectation regardless of one's values or desires. Tim Schurrer began to see this in his career—so he stepped up to help people reclaim a whole new meaning of success.

Instead of chasing the spotlight, Schurrer begs us to ask: What if we discover fulfillment in a new way? In his book The Secret Society of Success, Schurrer helps us reevaluate the definition of success to include one's true passion and contribution. As he told The Sunday Paper, his idea isn't about keeping up with the Jones, but rather about discovering what lights you up. “When we learn to identify what success is in our own lives, and we run our race, that is when we're at our best,” he says.

The following four ideas pulled from our conversation with Schurrer, may help to spark a new and wildly authentic idea of success for you—just in time to kick off 2023.

4 Tips to Help You Redefine Succcesss for You

#1: Seek out the “Secret Society.”

The title of Schurrer’s book—The Secret Society of Success—speaks not to a spotlight-seeking community. Rather, it gives voice to those who enjoy what he refers to as more “behind-the-scenes” roles and actions. “To be in the secret society has little to do with your place on the org chart or the amount of visibility you have,” says Schurrer. “Being in the secret society is more about the posture in which you show up, how you view yourself, how you view your career and life, and how you think of others.”

#2: Look within you, not around you.

“It's so easy to look at what everyone else is doing,” says Schurrer. “But the important thing is to take the time and be inspired as you create a definition of success for yourself.” This begins with looking within to find out what you want, not what your neighbor wants, he continues. The first step is to identify where you’re always trying to meet others’ expectations. “We must know what we're in before we know how to get out. And the big problem we’re all up against is the spotlight mindset—this unhealthy desire for attention recognition. If we can learn to identify where this shows up in our lives, these faulty definitions of success, we can start to navigate a different path.”

#3: Know that fulfilling work doesn’t always need a big title.

To illustrate this point, Schurrer likes to use his experience in writing his book. He spent a lot of time working with editors, and many times he’d hear that their goal must be to become well-known authors. “It’s almost as though they talk to these editors as though they are not successful or that something's wrong with them unless they want to get that position that gets them more of that visibility,” Schurrer remembers. This is problematic because it leaves those who love being an editor feeling less-than or not “ambitious” enough, he adds. The truth is, if a position is out of the spotlight but brings one joy, that is a key to joy. “What I also want people to know is that part of defining success for yourself includes loving the work that you do. And if you love the work that you do, then you don't need to change the thing.”

#4: Aim to help others.

Schurrer says one of the best ways to define success for you is to consider those you want to help. He refers to wisdom spoken by Andy Stanley, who once says, “the question we need to ask is, who am I here for?” This, says Schurrer, requires us to bring our best skills, talents, and abilities toward helping the greater good. “If we are looking to help other people, and to help others win, I feel like that is the beginning of what a new path [of success] could be.”

Author Tim Schurrer has spent the past decade of his career launching two brands—StoryBrand and Business Made Simple—as COO alongside bestselling author Donald Miller. Previously he worked at TOMS as well as Apple Inc. He is the host of the ‘Build a Winning Team’ podcast. Learn more at and order his book, The Secret Society of Success, here.

Question from the Editor: Considering #4, we'd love to know who you're motivated to help to broaden your idea of success. Let us know in the comments below!

Stacey Lindsay

Stacey Lindsay is a journalist and Senior Editor at The Sunday Paper. A former news anchor and reporter, Stacey is passionate about covering women's issues. Learn more

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