What Does It Mean To Be a R.E.A.L. Success?

If we’re all being honest, there is one goal that constantly floats around in our minds: the desire to be successful. Success can mean different things to different people. We all want to attain success at the end of the day. But if we’re going to be successful, we must first examine a good working definition of success. John C. Maxwell has a definition of success that I really resonate with: “Success is knowing your purpose in life, growing to reach your maximum potential, and sowing seeds that benefit others.” Maxwell goes on to give us a great model to follow in achieving success with his R.E.A.L. acronym. The R stands for relationships. The E stands for equipping. The A stands for attitude. The L stands for leadership. Let’s walk through why these four pillars are important and how they help lead us to successful outcomes.


People are the lifeblood of any functional unit (Ex. family, business, religion, government). The reason they are the lifeblood is because the individual interactions between people create pulses of emotion, thoughts, and actions. Those emotions, thoughts, and actions are critical because they create the flow of life. They can also, unfortunately, create a flow of death. There are 2 kinds of relationships: Life Giving and Life Draining.

  • Life Giving Relationships

Life Giving Relationships are based on (but not limited to) service and mutualism. When a person or organization puts the needs of another before their own, it shows that they care. People don’t care what you know unless they know that you care. This is why relationships based on service thrive. Life Giving Relationships are also give and take. There is a mutual benefit to both parties. Let me be clear. There is a reason I mentioned service first because it speaks to the intent of a Life Giving Relationship. Mutualism must be based on a desire to serve. When both parties in a relationship are focused on serving, it creates a win-win scenario.

Attributes of Life Givers: Positivity, Encouraging, Loving

  • Life Draining Relationships

Life Draining Relationships are based on (but not limited to) disservice and parasitism. When a person or organization puts its own needs ahead of others, it shows that they don’t care. Lack of caring creates the need for repairing. Relationships based on disservice dissolve over time. Life Draining Relationships involve one party sucking the time, energy, and resources out of another. Parasitism causes one to lose so another might win. The intent of parasitism is to selfishly take with no regard for others.

Attributes of Life Drainers: Negativity, Discouraging, Selfishness


One of the most telling signs of a good leader (we’ll come back to leadership) is delegation. Delegation, of course, needs certain conditions in play to work effectively. This is where equipping comes into the picture. When you successfully equip people, you create a culture of multiplication.

  • How To Equip People

Someone once told me a phenomenal way to train and equip people is the following process:

  1. Have your mentee/understudy watch you do a task/activity/action
  2. Do the same task/activity/action together
  3. Watch the mentee/understudy do the task/activity/action alone
  4. Let the mentee/understudy take another person under their wing and repeat the process


Life is 20% what happens to you and 80% of how you respond. One of the most powerful things within your control is your attitude. Your attitude (accommodation) determines your altitude (elevation). But what about talent one might ask? Too many times, people fall for the “talent trap.” Talent doesn’t guarantee you success. Talent may open doors for you, but a positive attitude is what keeps you in the room. Your attitude is what helps you ascend to levels your talent can’t take you.


Many people believe that being good at something makes you a leader. Doing really good work is important and makes you effective, but doesn’t necessarily make you a better leader. According to John C. Maxwell’s Law of The Lid, “leadership ability is the lid that determines a person’s level of effectiveness.” Leadership, like many things, is nuanced. As such, there are different levels of leadership. Maxwell defines 5 of them as the following (low to high): Level 1 – Position, Level 2 – Permission, Level 3 – Production, Level 4 – People Development, Level 5 – Pinnacle. The key take aways here are to increase your leadership ability and to serve your way to the pinnacle level of leadership.

Let’s pause for a moment and look at possible “success outcomes” of working the R.E.A.L. acronym into your life.

  • R.E.A.L. Success Outcomes

Relationships -> Connection

Equipping -> Multiplication

Attitude -> Elevation

Leadership -> Influence

Whew! We’ve chewed on a lot here. Now it’s action plan time. What is something you need to act on? What is something you need to change? What is something you need to teach or tell someone else? Oorah!

For some reading material on what success looks like, check out John C. Maxwell’s Your Roadmap For Success.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *