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Simon says, “Success is never absolute.”

Your success is a function of the people who have helped you succeed and, in turn, of the people you help succeed. It works like this.

•Successful people have developed services lines you link into to expand and enrich your internal resources. Call those opportunities you link to input (I).

•You in turn mix the input with your internal resources to develop your services line. Call that through-put (T).

•Your services line, in turn, is success input for others. Call that output (O).

Think of the input as the raw materials for your success business. The through-put is what you add to the value of the input. If the input plus the through-put does not exceed the value of the input, then you are not adding any value.

For example, if you spend your life doing only what you learned how to do in school, you are not adding any value. You are simply taking the input and using it, as is. If you do most everything exactly the same way you did it last year, you are not adding any value. If you are only teaching your children the same things you were taught, you are not adding any value.

Here is the success equation, the formula letting you know whether you are succeeding.

•Success = O – (I + T)

Your success is relative to the opportunities you have had and to how much you have added to those opportunities. Consider these three people and ask yourself who is the most successful, using the success equation.

•A young woman drops out of school to care for her disabled father. By the time she is twenty-years-old, she has two children and the continuing responsibility for her father. She attends classes at the community college and gets a secretarial job. She now cares for her father, is taking care of her children, does work with her church, and spends most days counting her pennies and feeling exhausted.

•A young woman from a working-class family finishes college, using scholarships and part-time work to finance her education. After college, she works as a social worker and pursues her interest in becoming a writer. Although she has not had a book published yet, she works on it daily. For now, she is still living with her parents to save money and focuses her energy on women’s issues through her writing.

•A third young woman from a well-to-do family graduates from a prestigious law school and is developing a good practice with a large law firm. Her plan is to make as much money as she can so she can continue living the good life and financially support and help with programs for abused children.

Apply the success equation to each woman. Who is the most successful? Who has added the most value to the opportunities she has had?

Success is not a matter of where you are or how much you have. It is a matter of how far you have come and how far you plan to go, how much your output exceeds the value of the input. The extent of your success is only limited by how much you will add to the opportunities available to you, how much your success business adds to the success of other people.

As you evaluate the balance sheet for your success business, keep in mind no one is interested in what you cannot or will not do for them. They are interested only in what you will do to add to their success. Your success business must add to its raw materials in ways increasing the value of the output for other people. It is not a matter of what you think is important. What actually makes a positive difference for other people is the only valid measure of your success; so find ways to tell people yes, ways to increase their success. This is the touch point, the place where you succeed together.

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