More Accounting Tomorrow Posts

Rethinking Success

August 3, 2010

Do you believe that success is something to be achieved in the future only after a number of milestones have been reached, or can it be experienced along the way? The secret is to learn how to experience success now, and the future will take care of itself.

Sound daunting? It’s actually much easier than you think.

Over the course of my career, first as a practicing CPA and then as a consultant and trainer, I’ve been privileged to work with some very successful CPAs. Not just financially successful, which of course is great, but they’re also doing work that’s rewarding and enjoying the people they work with. They have the time and freedom to do what’s important to them in life outside of work. They’re living great lives. I call them Masters of Success.

Our definition of success needs to change over time. In the early stages of our career, it’s about becoming good technicians and learning to work effectively with managers and team members.

Later on it’s about moving up the in the firm, taking on more responsibilities. As we face different challenges, the internal dialogue we have about our capabilities, our weaknesses, what’s possible, what’s in the way, and so on, all have a huge impact on how we deal with these challenges and the eventual outcome. That’s because our thoughts about success tend to become self-fulfilling prophecies.

Enjoying success at every stage of our career is easier if we examine and modify our inner dialogue in a way that allows us to win. For example, setting realistic expectations for ourselves, giving ourselves permission to not be perfect, to learn and grow, to ask questions, to make mistakes, and so on.

Rethinking success in this way allows us to enjoy the success that exists right where we are. There’s no doubt that success requires working hard, building skills, and the like, but that’s not all it takes. There are many people who work very hard doing the “right” things, and they’re still struggling. That’s because their inner dialogue is not allowing them to experience the success of what they are accomplishing.

Inner dialogues always feel right to us. In reality, they represent just one point of view. When we recognize that, it opens the space for other possibilities. I know this to be true, because the Masters of Success I referred to above changed their internal dialogue, and their worlds changed. The good news is that anyone who is open to it can rethink their dialogue, and create a different outcome.

I’d love to get your perspective on this, and also to know two things: 1) For where you are right now in your career, how would you define success? 2) What, if anything, is in the way of you experiencing that success?

As a consultant and trainer for the past two decades, Rick Solomon, CPA, both challenges and empowers accountants to reach higher levels of success. Making more money in fewer hours, doing more enjoyable work, and having an awesome life/work balance are just part of how he defines success. He can be reached at

Comments (3)
Mgant, I'm glad you found Rick's perspective helpful. He'll be blogging more very soon. Stay tuned! - Liz
Posted by Liz Gold | Thursday, August 12 2010 at 1:38PM ET
I was recently discharged from a very viable company. I have been in the accounting profession for over 20 years. Now at 47 years old I'm finding it incredibly difficult to find work. However, after reading your article my inner dialogue changes today.
Posted by mgant | Wednesday, August 11 2010 at 5:25PM ET
This is excellent advice for anyone who wants to enjoy the career journey along the way. It's important to stop to contemplate how one's passions are meshing with one's work. Changing the inner dialogue can change outlook and even quality of work and life. While we all have exernal measures of success, we all ultimately define our own success. Thanks for this great reminder of that fact, Rick!
Posted by susanhillpr | Tuesday, August 03 2010 at 10:48AM ET
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