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A friend of mine is preparing a university graduation address. He has asked a number of us how we would answer the question, “What does success mean to you?” I responded with the following ideas that may not directly answer the question but head in its general direction.

The first idea is this. The quality of your relationships will determine the quality of your life. Or, in terms of success, the success of your relationships will determine the success of your life.

Secondly, success, where possible, should not be a zero-sum game. The best success in business or life is where each party wins. Win-win leads to reciprocal rather than transactional approaches to life. Win-win leads to ongoing connection and custom. While you don’t want to leave too much on the table, nor do you want to leave nothing on the table for the other party. The best deal is where both parties walk away happy.

Thirdly, trust is the currency that makes life possible. Trust should be our default position until there is evidence to the contrary. Be trustworthy and imagine that others will be likewise. Most of the time, you will be right. Trust is a time saver. Without it we would not be able to do much at all.

Fourth, if you want to be successful, own it. Stop making excuses or blaming others when things go wrong or don’t go the way you wanted or hoped. Success is being accountable. People who blame others tend not to grow and tend not to have successful relationships. Success looks like owning the good and the bad rather than trying to blame others.

Fifth, success means knowing what you believe and why, being open about it and happy to engage with others openly and non-defensively. Success is also not being threatened when others hold different ideas. Thoughtful ideas loosely held.

Sixth, people matter more than things. If you don’t, won’t or can’t understand this and live it out, it won’t matter how much you have, you won’t find it fulfilling.

Seventh. Stuff. Ideas. Relationships. Experiences. Most people are driven by these things, separately or in combination. Know which one matters most to you or what balance suits you best. That way, you won’t be fighting against your disposition or chasing the wrong thing.

And finally, real wealth is measured in time and generosity.

In summary: the quality of your relationships will determine the quality of your life, aim for win-win in all your dealings, trust is a key currency of life, as is accountability, know what you think and why and be interested in what others think, people matter more than things, know what motivates you, real wealth is having time and being generous. Success means figuring out how all of this will shape your life and the lives of those around you for good.

Tim Watson