Who’s Defining Your Model of Success?

Designing SuccessDid you ever play with Legos? Besides being one of the most painful things to step on in the middle of the night, they are an amazing toy for explorative play.

If you’ve played with them, or seen them in stores, you know that there are general kits, and the kits for building pre-defined models.

That’s similar to how our success models are formed. Some are pre-defined, and we just follow the instructions to put them together to match the picture on the box. Others are free-form, and of our own design.

The Legos of Success

We all have a model of success in our heads. A picture of what the ideal life would be like. We each come at the concept of “success” differently.

When you imagine what success looks like, what do you see?

Where did that model come from?

Throughout our lives, bits and pieces of the success model kit comes to us from a variety of sources. We take some from here, and a little from there, and assemble it into our picture of what success means.

Many people only work with pre-defined models. These models are given to them by their parents, teachers, friends and mentors – or marketers, Hollywood, and the media.

When it comes to your own success models, it’s okay to start with some that are pre-defined. But like with the Lego kits, building the same model on the box over, and over, gets boring. That’s when you need to start customizing them, and mixing and matching to create your own, better version.

Then you can look at what you built and say “that’s mine, I did that.”

It’s time to break out of the comfort of building what’s on the box, and start making your own models.

It’s your life – build your own model of success.


  1. This is one of the frustrating things I found about working in a large organisation; one was expected to fill a certain mould in the way you operated. While there were opportunities to do things “my way” one couldn’t be too extreme, one couldn’t leave “The Policy.”

    Now working for myself I have all the freedoms I once dreamt of – but there are still people wanting to mould me their way. It takes great resolve and strength of character to resist the normal models and to branch out and create your very own models.

  2. When you come to the fork in the road, use the fork and eat a 2-course meal.

    I like the scene from The X-files where Moulder and Scully are searching for the oil tankers and come to a point in the road where they can either turn right or left. Moulder goes straight. Smart way to think.


  3. I’m “all in” for any post containing Legos! I would guess 75% of my life until age 16 was building everything from spaceships to skateboard parks. Makes sense that I’m now a guy who puts together kits for others in the form of websites, internet marketing and traditional marketing. I wasn’t much for the kits. Great analogy!

  4. Great illustration, Tony. A very positive take.

    “Besides being one of the most painful things to step on in the middle of the night.” Another, of course, being the upturned plug. Darn, that smarts.

    Just being a weeny bit pedantic: Is it “legos”? I thought lego was one of those words like “sheep”. That’s the kind of thing the Lego Group might take seriously. They could come down on you like a ton of (not very heavy) bricks. Sorry, couldn’t resist it.

  5. Gee whiz, I still play with Lego’s……though I just started back after a long time(now I’m a dad) πŸ™‚ Great post. Now that you mention it, I naturally picture someone else’s life, or someone else’s house, or car, etc. when trying to form a picture of success in my mind……except maybe I visualize myself in that house! I like the thought of trying to challenge those same scenes in my mind and find something more creative…..my “own, better image”. Cool idea.

  6. Trevor – Well put. Using the models given to you is much easier than creating your own – in life OR Legos πŸ™‚ It does take courage to make your own.

    Shane – Very nice examples. Sometimes the road less traveled isnÒ€ℒt even a road.

    Aaron – I was the same way. To me, it was always more fun to create your own, even though it could be frustrating and harder than following a pattern.

    Rory – Actually, I believe the proper format is “LEGO® brand building blocks.” πŸ˜‰ Since every kid (of all ages) I ever knew calls them “Legos,” that’s what I’m sticking with. At one time, they had some bizarre corporate lawyer speak message at “legos.com” telling customers how wrong they were (see Jaffe):


    Now they just re-direct with a friendlier message.

    Anthony – Me too. Having kids is a great excuse to do all those cool things, like play with toys and watch Sponge Bob. Though, I went from being a kid who played with toys, to a big kid who still played with toys, to a parent who plays with toys. No down-time for me πŸ™‚

  7. The first set of Lego that I chanced upon was ‘free-flow’. I hated sticking to sets, preferring to explore and build up on my own. Some people do need help to get them started, but it is those who explore and stand on their own feet who becomes their own example of success. Why depend on someone else to imitate success? You can be your very own as well.

  8. My legos are the biographies of great men and women that I wish to emulate in one way or the other. I like the do character studies of these people. While I am reading I underline their qualities and take note of them later for quick glances. People that I am studing currently are John D. Rockefeller, Martin Luther King Jr, Andrew Carnegie, John F. Kennedy, and Ralph Waldo Emerson to name a few

  9. Lyndon – Good point… starting from a base model and building your own is a good way to do it.

    Bradley – That’s a great analogy. Coincidentally, I’m posting about our own “future” biographies today.

  10. I played with Lego blocks and I did it freestyle. My mom bought me pre-defined models but I found them restrictive and after a while I realized I can assemble anything I wanted as long as I had enough bricks and imagination in the first place.

    My greatest entertainment was when I turned the assorted bricks I had into a medical chopper, complete with rear doors, props, and enough space inside for my action figures.

    Of course, it was big and bulky and I had to be careful not to drop it (Which was why it eventually evolved into an APC…) And yes, they hurt a lot when stepped on while barefooted and only tacks are worse. Or maybe landmines πŸ˜‰

    On a bit more “serious” note, I tend to look up to successful individuals for particular traits that I admire, not for the life they lived. There’s Stephen Covey for his principle-based philosophy (though I’m not all that religious, it’s still relevant to me), Donald Trump’s (yes, Trump) ambitious drive, and Tim Ferriss with his zesty approach to living life. The first two have books I’ve read and Ferriss’ getting his own book out soon and I want to see more of his approach and anecdotes (www.fourhourworkweek.com).

    Anyways, looking up to them is a lot like the way I played with my Legos. I took the parts that I needed and liked and molded them into something of my own.

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