How To Wheel Your Way To Success

By People Leaders | People Leaders Podcast

How To Wheel Your Way To Success People Leaders

We’ve been using the success wheel for many years, and every time we use it with a leadership client or team we get great feedback and they get great results. The beauty of this activity is that it’s ridiculously simple and yet super effective. In this post we’re going to share why and how we use the success wheel – and why it brings such successful results.

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What is the success wheel?

It’s easy. Draw a circle in the middle of a sheet of paper with enough room to write some words in the middle, and enough space on the outside that you can write some more. In the middle of the circle, write the word ‘Success’ and on the outside write the words ‘Non-success’. That’s the first step.

The personal success wheel

There are several ways you can apply the success wheel and we’ll go into that a little later. But for now, let’s say you’re working on your own personal success wheel.

Go through the above process and then write anything you think defines success for you over the next 6–12 months either as a statement, a phrase, a feeling, or a goal. Take care not to edit yourself – this is just for you.

Success examples: I have heaps of energy, I've lost two kilos, I've run a 5K event.

Non-success examples: I have low energy, I didn't complete the run, I haven't been training regularly.

Some people find it easy to have a positive statement that says, ‘This is what I want to achieve and create’. Others are very clear about what they don't want and what they do want becomes clearer as they go through this process.

The important thing about non-success is that once you’ve established what it looks like, you can put actions or thoughts in place to mitigate it, e.g. If non-success looks like this, these are some things I can do to prevent that from happening.

The team success wheel

We find the success wheel activity extremely useful as a springboard for teams during things like team days. Here’s how that could work for you:

  1. Draw the wheel up on a big board in front of the team and ask the question, ‘What does success look like for this team over the next six to 12 months?’
  2. Team members post their answers on a sticky note either inside or outside the wheel.
  3. The team leader reads out the statements and interesting things emerge. For example, some people feel success is about interpersonal relationships, i.e. they're well developed and we're sharing information. For others, success is that we've achieved our targets, or we're getting great feedback from stakeholders.
  4. The combined collective opinions of the team creates a well-rounded picture that says, ‘This is what success looks like for our team,’ and you can start turning statements into objectives and put actions against them.

Success wheel for a leader

We’ve used this process many times in leadership coaching by asking leaders what success looks like to them and what the things are they’d be doing, thinking or feeling.

Sometimes success looks like people giving you feedback about how well your team is performing. In other cases it feels like confidence, or that you’re giving people regular constructive feedback. Leaders can use these as the springboard to define key objectives.

We follow that by asking leaders to think about what non-success looks like and what they can do to mitigate those non-success issues on the outside of the wheel?

Why is this tool so effective?

1) It helps define when you're on or off track, providing clarity and focus in a visual way
Because we are visual beings, the visual representation of success and non-success allows the neuro pathways in the brain to fire off in ways that it wouldn't if we were just having a conversation about it. Writing things down really does magnify things and helps us hold focus.

2) In a team context, members get to see and share what’s important to them
The success wheel process gives others access to individual’s thoughts, ideas and goals which leads to better conversations. It’s a great activity for new teams or for those operating virtually who can do this via video conferencing.

Success wheel tips and uses

  • Put a copy of your success wheel in an envelope and bring it out in three months’ time as a checking point to see how far you’ve come.
  • Go one step further by putting it away, bringing it out and then, for each one of your statements do a rating scale. For example, ‘On a scale of 1­–5, to what degree am I moving towards this success element?’ You could even pop it back in the envelope and bring it out in another three or six months.
  • You might prefer to have your success wheel placed up front and centre next to your computer where it’s always reminding you of where you’re heading.
  • Use the success wheel as a super quick and easy alternative to the traditional vision board. There are no images to cut and paste, just simple words and statements. Some people even reduce it and put it in their wallet so they have a mini reminder every time they open their purse.
  • Create a success wheel for your stakeholders asking what does success and non-success look like to them over the next 6–12 months. You could use it as a conversation piece with your stakeholder, or you could get them to do the activity on your behalf.
  • Try out the success wheel on your family. Asking these questions in a family setting can do wonders to align different family member’s needs and goals. For example, for you, success might be having a meal together every night. For someone else, it might be going away on a holiday once a year, or everyone feeling like they’ve been heard and understood. In our house, it's everyone doing their chores!

To make it even easier for you, we have a success wheel template for you to download so you can get started straight away. The more you can engage the mind, your emotions, and all of your senses into an area of a focus, the more you're going to get from it. You'll get out what you put in – so put in! And as always, we’d love to hear how you go.