Success is not determined by performance

How do you define success? You may be surprised to find that performance has very little to do with it. I was.

The Science of Success (The Nature of Things)

In episode 14, of the recent season of The Nature of Things, scientists explore predicting success. What they discovered is high performance is not a predictor of success. Their research started with the famous painting, Mona Lisa. Why is that particular painting considered the most successful of all time? Why not any other paintings? Leonardo da Vinci has many more paintings on display in the Louvre. Yet, they are not as famous. Turns out, Vincenzo Peruggia, an Italian immigrant to France, who had briefly worked at the Louvre, stole this painting in 1911. The news became a world-wide story which you can imagine back then was quite a feat. This was not the age of social media where events around the world become known instantly after they happen. The focus from society helped propel this particular painting into the spotlight. For over 400 years, it was basically unknown.


Certainly the quality (performance) of the Mona Lisa painting contributes to its success? Apparently not as much as you would think. Many report disappointment when they see the painting in the museum.

In sports, it is easy to measure performance. Who runs the fastest? Has the highest score? Outperforms all others? As I watch my beloved Toronto Maple Leafs, I can certainly attest to the fact that performance does not guarantee success. That is to say, if performance is your only measure of success. Mitch Marner puts on a show every time he plays setting up Auston Matthews for goal after goal, while often also scoring his own. Yet, year after year, like many loyal fans, this time of year I wait with bated breath to see if this is the year. The Leafs have not won the Stanley Cup since the year I was born. Currently, the longest drought in the NHL. However, Forbes ranks the Toronto Maple Leafs #2 on their The Business of Hockey list. The franchise value is $1.8 B. So, if performance is not the predictor of success, then what is?

The Impact of Society

Back to the scientists at The Nature of Things. Researchers explored the impact of society on determining which songs would be successful. Similarly, they found the performance by the musician was not as influential in determining success as the ratings the songs received in a blind study. Participants ranked songs on their preference. In one study, they could not see the ratings given by other participants. In the second study, they could see the ratings. Consequently, in the study where rankings were shown, subsequent participants tended to rank similarly. Think about your own buying habits. How many of you buy products or services based on ratings, testimonials and recommendations? Often it has less to do with performance.


According to an article, also by Forbes, only 10% of your success is based on performance. 60% is based on exposure with the remaining 30% attributed to your image. They define exposure as how often people are talking about you and your work. I have discovered in Newfoundland and Labrador, while large in geography, we are small when it comes to networking. My business relies heavily on exposure. If people are talking about the work I do with others, they are essentially marketing me and my business. I am grateful for the exposure others give me.

I am a Successful Businesswoman

One of my four daily positive affirmations is “I am a successful businesswoman”. Based solely on performance, I would say, yes, I am a successful businesswoman. As my 97-year old grandfather often asks, “I suppose there is a dollar to be made at what you do?” Yes, Pop there is.

For me, however, my definition of success is not based on performance. I measure my success by how my clients feel about my performance. Based on what others are saying about me, I feel successful. When I started my business four years ago, I had no doubt it would be successful. I just did not know it would be this successful, this fast. Affirmations are not always fact; however, they can be powerful statements that we wish to achieve. I am blessed to say that this particular affirmation is true every day. Thank you to all who have contributed to my success. Now how about those Leafs? ~ Carole