When I was a sophomore at Winchester Community High School in 1966, I lettered in football. That was a big deal for a Sophomore playing with teammates who would play in college the next year! My primary position was to hold the football for the place kicker. Hey, at least I played each game!
Rick Valandingham, the place kicker, did not miss a single field goal that year, and his success was dependent on my success and vice versa. We became great friends. Once, right at the moment Rick kicked a successful field goal, an opposing player decided to put his head down and bull dozed me. It was a hard hit, and I almost passed out. I remember Rick was kind, pulling me up off the ground saying, “Craig, you did it. You did not flinch! We made the field goal!”
Even though I was hurting physically, mentally I felt fortunate to survive the hit, and happy that Rick and I worked together to achieve our goal, no matter how much the other team tried to intimidate us. The definition of success for Rick and I was not just how many field goals we hit but was also measured by our ability to support each other when the opposing players were bigger and more powerful than we were.
Of course, we were proud that we contributed to the team’s success measured by 8 wins and 0 losses. Just last year, I learned that the team was ranked 12th in the whole state that year! However, the support the seniors provided, and Rick and I gave to one another, when facing overwhelming odds against us, was an even greater measure of success. Most of those players prospered throughout the years, financially and otherwise, because of the good fortune of being a powerful team who were tough minded, hard-hitting, and yet kind to one another when facing adversity.
Recently, serving in my role as a Scaling Up Business Coach, I met Paul Saunders, his wife Emily and brother Andrew who launched a successful start up over 10 years ago, a manufacturing company called eLuxury. eLuxury has become one of the internet’s most trusted providers for affordable home goods and basic bedding. Along with their new executive leaders, Eric and Vinny, they are facing the complexity of scaling up, and are a newly formed team equipped to face the barriers to growth inherent for all scale ups.
Paul and his team are very successful running eLuxury in Evansville, Indiana, as measured by the traditional definition of success—Inc. 5,000 #4 in 2016; #1 Fastest Growing Retail Company; #1 Fastest Growing Company in Indiana. However, one startling measure of success really stood out for me beyond those amazing awards. Paul shared this with me: We essentially have zero turnover with the highest performing employees, and exceptionally low turnover with employees. When it’s not a fit, employees are generally in and out.”
In his video on the eLuxury website, Paul shares this: “In 1806, the definition of Success in the Webster dictionary was to be fortunate, happy, kind and prosperous. In 2013 the definition of success is the attainment of wealth, fame and power. This change in the definition of success tells a great deal about society and how we have steadily glamorized wealth and power.”
Paul and his leadership team are setting a high standard for defining success that includes treating employees with kindness to evoke a happy, but hard-working workplace that results in good fortune and prosperity. What is your definition of success? What if your definition of success took into account creating a workplace where everyone experienced being “fortunate, happy, kind and prosperous.”?