Of late, we’ve been pondering success. 

Maybe because of sitting through relatives’ graduation ceremonies, where speakers always tell captive audiences to “do their best, make their mark, give back.”

Or maybe because of the annual Bloomberg Businessweek round-up of commencement quotes, coupled with a many-paged special on success.

Either way, it prompted us to stop.

Those profiled in the mag have little in common.   Except all are originals, in their own way.  The Fault is in Our Stars John Green created a unique conversation with teens – direct, sympathetic, intelligent.  Shaq of Shaquille O’Neal fame fastidiously manages his brand, a peculiar kind of goofiness … sort of an oversize fun kid attitude.  Max Temkin and friends launched Cards against Humanity, a decidedly non-Internet game encouraging people to spend time together, sans Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, and other e-distractions.

The other share-able attribute?  Again, each person gives back.  In different ways.  It might be product or time or a particular philanthropy.  What mattered most was the act of doing things for other people.

It’s what Robert Greenleaf meant when he talked servant-leaders in the 1970s.  Those execs who put people first, help them develop to their highest potential, and share power.  The top of the pyramid, he felt, has to show caring attitudes and actions, building a solid foundation for performance for both the individual and the organization. 

In these uncertain days, we feel, giving is vastly under-rated.  It’s part of our definition of success.  And yours?