Check your own mindset — it starts between your ears. If things feel out of control or you aren’t where you need to be — assess how you are thinking and what you are saying to yourself. Would you say those same things to your children or someone else you love? Likely not.
Have you ever noticed how often we equate success with more? Whether that’s more products, more profits, more activities or more accomplishments, we buy into the belief that we have to do more to have more to be more. And that will sum up to success. And then along comes The Great Resignation. Where employees are signaling that the “more” that’s being offered — even more pay, more perks, and more PTO — isn’t summing up to success for them. We visited with leaders who are redefining what success means now. Their answers might surprise you.
As a part of this series, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Jaime Taets.
Jaime Taets spent 13 years in a large corporate environment in a variety of leadership roles. She is currently the CEO of Keystone Group International, a firm focused on leadership development and organizational strategy and growth. Jaime uses her leadership experiences to drive “real” discussions about how we can all drive high performance and healthy cultures in our organizations. In addition to running a company, she currently serves on the Board of Directors for multiple for-profit and non-profit organizations and volunteers her time to mentor women who are starting their own businesses through a grant program with Passion Collective.
Thank you for making time to visit with us about the topic of our time. Our readers would like to get to know you a bit better. Can you please tell us about one or two life experiences that most shaped who you are today?
I am fascinated with understanding people’s journeys, I believe all of us have unique journeys that shape what we bring to our families, organizations and communities. As a leader myself and also an advisor to other business leaders, I am constantly sharing my own journey to show them the impact they can have when they share their journeys — the good parts and the challenging parts.
My journey was shaped by a couple of key events. The first of which was the situation I was born into. My mother had me at 17 and was a single mom for the first 5 years of my life. We struggled, but we persisted and I was able to see my mom defy all odds and become a successful entrepreneur herself. There are so many lessons that she taught me through how she constantly re-defined success throughout her career.
The second event was the year that I started my business. I was 6 months into leaving a steady corporate gig, feeling on top of the world as a new entrepreneur and found myself in the midst of a personal crisis — my divorce. It was during that time that I really had to redefine what success was for me — not someone else. I had to shift my beliefs about myself, my life and focus on what really matter to me, my family and my business as a whole.
The moments in your life that are the most stressful or traumatic are often the times that force you to re-evaluate what you really want, what success used to look like and what it looks like going forward.
We all have myths and misconceptions about success. What are some myths or misconceptions that you used to believe?
That there was one definition of success. That there was this pinnacle that you would reach and then you were successful. The reason I tell so much of my own vulnerable story is that I want other leaders to realize that there is no single definition of success and throughout our journeys, life forces us to refine our definition over and over again, it’s the beautiful part of life — there is no one thing we have to strive for, we get to figure it out and write the script as we go along.
The second misconception I hear a lot is that there’s a specific plan to achieving success. We do strategic planning facilitation for a living, so it’s not that I’m not an advocate for having a plan, but so many of us set plans for our lives and businesses and then the world around us changes. Yet we hang on to those plans because we feel like we are failing if we deviate. Don’t marry your plan. Have a plan, and then have a process and approach to challenge it regularly to make sure it still makes sense. My biggest fear is climbing the mountain of success and getting to the top and realize I wanted to be climbing a different mountain.
How has your definition of success changed?
Over the years my definition of success has simplified. I focus more on the milestones of success that are leading me someplace greater, challenging me to be better. I set goals for growth both personally and for my business, but I don’t fool myself into thinking there’s one big finish line I’m trying to cross. I take each mile one at a time and constantly re-assess if I’m running in a direction that still feels fulfilling to me. If I’m not, then we course correct and take a different route. I feel successful now because of the impact that we have and the moments we celebrate along the way instead of some huge finish line we are trying to cross.
The pandemic, in many ways, was a time of collective self-reflection. What changes do you believe we need to make as a society to access success post pandemic?
We have to stop thinking that purpose, values and caring about each other is the “soft” stuff. That is actually the hardest thing to do as a leader, yet it’s the most crucial now and into the future. The way we motivate people going forward is going to be more about the impact they can help us make and the strengths that they get to use on the journey than about how high they can climb or how much they can make. The strongest clients we have are the ones who are doubling down on culture and really investing in their leaders to drive a completely different relationship with employees. When we can be conscious leaders, we create conscious companies — companies that know how to balance taking care of their shareholders, the business, the employees and their communities.
What do you see as the unexpected positives in the pandemic? We would love to hear a few of your stories or examples.
True leaders are getting stronger and more conscious of the impact they have — they are exercising different muscles and creating stronger teams out of the pandemic.
We have a client that is in the construction industry and I am amazed at how the conversations have changed over the past year to caring about the people, supporting their mental health and really helping them see the bigger picture. Even in traditional blue collar industries, we are seeing organizations that are turning their energy towards caring deeply about their people and it’s turning into results for the organization. We have been coaching businesses on this for years and it wasn’t until the shift that the pandemic caused that people really started to understand the impact we were talking about. It’s going to be the biggest competitive advantage for businesses over the next 5–10 years and we are excited because our clients are poised to lead the way.
We’re all looking for answers about how to be successful now. Could you please share “5 Ways To Redefine Success Now?” (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Check your own mindset — it starts between your ears. If things feel out of control or you aren’t where you need to be — assess how you are thinking and what you are saying to yourself. Would you say those same things to your children or someone else you love? Likely not.
- Filter the noise — Pay attention to who you are listening to. Everyday I talk to business leaders who are listening to people in their lives that aren’t trying to achieve what they are. We have to pay attention to the noise and voices that we let in as we are trying to drive towards our own success.
- Stop getting ready to be ready. The perfect path to success is never going to be laid out in front of you — you have to find it. And in order to find it, we have to take a step forward, even when we don’t have it all figured out and we don’t know every step we need to take, move forward anyway, do one small thing today.
- Make progress the destination. Celebrate the progress you are making along the way to keep yourself motivated and committed. Find the success in each step, instead of waiting for some huge finish line.
- Maximize your return on luck — I believe that luck is actually the intersection of being prepared and an opportunity presenting itself. So, if you want to be “lucky” then focus on preparation. What do you need to learn, what experience do you need so when the opportunity of success presents itself, you are ready to capitalize on it.
How would our lives improve if we changed our definition of success?
We would all be happier — not just a temporary happy, but happier in our souls if we stopped comparing someone elses’ definition of success to our own journeys. As leaders, we need to open up and be more vulnerable with our employees and our peers to show them that success is not this beautifully paved path, but it’s filled with potholes and detours, yet it can still have an impactful outcome. If we all owned our own definition of success, we would see organizations that were thriving even in the midst of uncertainty around them.
What’s the biggest obstacle that stands in the way of our redefined success? And what advice would you offer about overcoming those obstacles?
Our mindset is the biggest obstacle. When I finally came to terms that the way I was thinking was what was driving my pain and struggle, it was a game changer. I stopped blaming other people or situations for why I wasn’t where I wanted to be and I started owning my own journey. That was when I truly gained the confidence to dream bigger. I like to think that when things get tough, I now have the confidence to double down on me.
Where do you go to look for inspiration and information about how to redefine success?
Podcasts and inspirational books. I love hearing other people’s stories — the tough roads they have encountered and the huge success they have achieved. It inspires me to keep going even when things get hard. I think more of us need to share our stories to really pave the way for others to find confidence in the tough points.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He, she or they might just see this if we tag them.
Simon Sinek — he has been so impactful for me in how I’ve developed as an entrepreneur and a leader. He helped validate the appraoch I was taking to be more conscious, to build my business the right way — built on strong values and not a financial target. And he has helped me cope with the uncertainties that success and entrepreneurship have by helping me focus on the infinite game we are all playing. Nothing is zero sum in life or in business, and the faith in the future that mindset creates is so impactful. I feel like through his teachings I’ve been able to navigate a lot of uncertainty with faith and courage.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
You can follow me as an author and coach at www.jaimetaets.com
And you can follow my business at www.keystonegroupintl.com
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this. We wish you continued success and good health.