Blog: How do you define success?

Maryann Croce

For years society told us success it’s something to achieve, tying it to money, fame, or even a lifestyle. In business, it’s a goal or number to measure performance. In our personal life, it may be having a family, dream home, vacation, or vehicle.

These achievements or milestones will spark moments of happiness. We then find ourselves looking for the next achievement and if we don’t reach the mark, how does that leave us feeling? If we’re not happy, are we successful?

It’s easy to look at business and life from your own vantage point and get frustrated or feel stuck because you aren’t getting your desired results. When we look at success not as a destination but as a journey, it allows us to look at the bigger picture and become the best version of ourselves. Many people today will define success as happiness. If that is true, then what will make you happy?

The challenge: We all have a story

Not the story of our accomplishments, grit and drive, that is easy to share. It’s the story that is difficult to share. The one that holds us back. The story our inner critic tells us about not being enough.

  • Not having the experience or education to own a business
  • Not seeing our past as lessons and/or opportunities to grow
  • Not having friends or family who are business owners
  • Not ________________________________ (fill in the blank)

This could be a story we’ve been telling ourselves since childhood. No matter what tactics or strategy we discover or try our inner critic tells us we aren’t as good as someone else and we continually allow the story to hold us back. Openly we make excuses and/or blame others for not getting our desired results. We may defend why we do the things we do, while secretly asking ourselves, who do you think you are owning a business?


There are many great tactic and strategy resources in the industry to help owners run a successful shop, but all the information, training, coaching, and mentoring we receive is useless if we allow our story to hold us back.

The good news

You’re not broken. You can crush the inner critic. It takes a pro mindset. Leadership transformation is not about you and it’s not about pride. It’s thinking beyond yourself to look at what best serves your family, team, clients, community and best serves your business.

It’s about strategy: focus on doing the right things. Marketing, Financials, Operations, People, Sales.

It’s about tactics: focus on doing things right.

  • Marketing -The right messaging for your ideal client
  • Financials – Know and understand your numbers
  • Operations – Create an efficient and productive shop
  • People- A great culture where people are respected and valued
  • Sales- Build and nurture relationships to create a continuous flow of clients/customers

Because if you focus on doing something right but it’s the wrong thing to do, (example: taking on jobs you shouldn’t because you’re slow) it seems as though you’re spinning your wheels and profits will suffer.

If you do the right thing but you do it wrong, (example: Hire too fast and fire too slow) you can feel frustrated with bad hires, creating a toxic culture.

Then, it’s easy for the inner critic to creep up. Thinking in some way we are less than, only fuels our story.

When my clients or an audience allow themselves to IMAGE without the inner critic, what success looks like, it goes beyond themselves. Success shows up as fulfillment which is long term happiness. I can be happy without being fulfilled. I can’t be fulfilled without being happy. It’s finding the self-awareness and skill building during the journey, rewarding.

It’s loving your family every day even when you don’t like them every day. It’s loving what you do even when you have a bad day.

They experience a joy in knowing that they are making a difference. They look at challenges as opportunities and reflect on how far they’ve come. They know their why. If you’ve lost sight of yours or want to revisit it try this exercise.

  1. List your top 5 core values Do an online search for ideas. You may have to narrow the list down.
  2. How do they show up each day? Write down how a core value showed up that day. Good Example: If family is one of your core values. A team member has a family emergency and your first thought is “Go and take care of your family. Keep me posted. We will handle it here.” Bad Example: “You have to leave now? How am I going to get the work done when you’re gone? When will you be back?”
  3. If asked, could your family, team or clients state your core values without being told what they are? Think about what they hear and see each day from you. How do you interact with others?
  4. Does your family, team and customers share your core values? What is important to them? What motivates them? Are you paying attention?

What I learned over the years is that success is becoming the best version of ourselves. There will be achievements and road blocks along the way but the people who are successful;

  • Focus on time-based goals
  • Are flexible and adaptable to achieve them
  • Hold themselves and others accountable
  • Review what worked and what didn’t

Teams and customers want to be around these people because they stay true to their core values, they are willing to help others reach their goals and are open to learn and share. Do the work and trust the journey as in the 5 stages of business. Here’s to your success and fulfillment my friend.

Maryann Croce, a certified partner of Todd Herman’s 90 Day Year™, is a business coach and owner of Small Biz Vantage. Her company specializes in leadership development for trade business owners. She is an auto shop owner since 1999. You can reach Maryann at (203) 913-7741 or Maryann speaks on leadership and mindset.