By Bill Prosch, CR

Whether we consciously think about it or not, down deep we all have a vision of what life would look like if we were truly successful. On top of that, we tend to believe that everyone’s view of success is very similar to our own. But that’s simply not true. If you polled one hundred people on what success looks like to them, you would get one hundred different answers. Let me give you an example.

I have two clients, each with similar-sized companies performing the same kind of work. Essentially, these companies perform mitigation only and are each doing around two million dollars per year in revenue. The owners of these companies are both in their early thirties.

The owner of Company A has amassed a large amount of cash. Very large. This owner works twelve- to fifteen-hour days, usually seven days per week. He’s still heavily involved in the production side of his company. In fact, he’s heavily involved in every aspect of his company. When you ask him what his vision of success looks like, he talks about wanting to take some time off and have employees he can trust to run the company in his absence. While many would be willing to sacrifice their free time for a seven-figure bank account, he says he won’t feel successful until he’s no longer a slave to his company.

The owner of Company B, on the other hand, has a completely different view of success. Unlike owner A, Company B’s owner recently took an extended vacation to Central America. Following that, he took several weeks off when his son was born so he could be there to assist his wife and bond with his new baby. This owner has done a great job assembling and managing a team that allows him to enjoy the things in life that are important to him. But Company B isn’t rolling in cash. In fact, the cash flow needs to be carefully managed in order to meet its obligations. Not surprisingly, this owner’s vision of success includes having a bank account that looks like Company A’s.

What’s fascinating to me is the fact that both owners view success in terms of what the other one has. From the outside looking in, it’s easy to make the statement that true success lies somewhere in between. But, if you’re thinking that, remember that’s now your vision of success—not necessarily theirs. The key factor here is to realize how important it is to define your own vision of success, anchor it as a goal, and stay disciplined in working toward attaining that goal.

A difference in focus

So how did Companies A and B get to where they are? It certainly didn’t happen by accident. Clearly, the owner of Company A has decided that he deserves to have a lot of money. If you ask him why, he’ll tell you that’s how he was raised. His father constantly reinforced the idea that security in life meant not having to depend on anyone else financially.

The owner of Company B was raised differently, with the idea that family is the most important thing in life.

Obviously, these two owners were taught to focus on different priorities when they were young, and that focus has led them to where they are today. The focus on money is second nature to owner A, while the focus on enjoying his family comes naturally to owner B.

So how does owner A get more time off and owner B get more money? They need to change their focus, right? It’s not that easy, because we are creatures of habit. If you don’t believe me, just try changing where you start washing the next time you take a shower. You can do it, but it’s uncomfortable and doesn’t feel right until you switch back to your old routine. And, no matter how long you force yourself to start in the new place, it will always be easier to return to your old habit. For you to continue the new routine will take a tremendous amount of self-discipline.

For owner A to have a work/life balance that’s anything close to owner B’s, he will need to develop the discipline to focus on the result he desires. And when things get tough, where will he want to go? Right back to his old behaviors. In other words, without focus and discipline, change is guided by hope, and as an early mentor of mine frequently told me, “hope management doesn’t work.”

To sum things up, remember these four principles:

  1. If you want to change, it’s important to know why you want that change (your definition of success).
  2. Once you know why the change is important, focus on the result you desire.
  3. Develop the discipline to maintain focus on your goal.
  4. Be aware that when times get tough, you’re going to want to go back to what’s always been comfortable. When that happens, recognize it for what it is and redouble your resolve to reach your goal.

Success doesn’t come easily. But, it’s there for the taking if you can master focus and discipline.

Bill Prosch, CR, is a Business Development Adviser for Violand Management Associates (VMA), a highly-respected consulting company in the restoration and cleaning industries. Prosch is a leading expert in operations and a Certified Restorer. He has a deep understanding of entrepreneurial challenges having owned and operated a successful restoration company for more than 30 years. Through Violand, he works with companies to develop their people and their profits. To reach him, visit or call (800)360-3513.