About a year ago, I gave my best shot at exploring what "success" looks like in the context of church planting (you can follow the thread here, here, here, here, here, and here). Seth Godin provides his answer here:
Are you successful? Is your brand or your organization?
How do you know?
It's a serious question. How do you know when you're successful--when you have enough market share or profit or respect or money? How do you decide what success is?
This matters, because "never enough" is the wrong answer to anyone who wants to set realistic budgets or expectations or just plain enjoy the ride.
Too often, we let someone else define success. Critics, for example, want a movie to be only modestly popular and modestly approachable. Geeks want your brand to be new and edgy. Alexa-watchers want you to be bigger than MySpace. Stock analysts want you to beat the numbers that they told you they wanted you to meet. Your boss wants you to show up a lot and work late, regardless of what you actually do for her...
A lot of organizational conflict comes from mismatched expecations of success. A lot of kids live unhappy lives because of unrealistic benchmarking from parents (as popular as that kid, as attractive as this one, as smart as the other one...).
How's this: success is largely about keeping your promises.