If you pick up the news on any given day, you’ll find another scandal where someone stole from his company, cheated his clients, or scammed the system. This kind of behavior is not only ignored but actually condoned and encouraged in some industries. “Pulling one over” on a competitor or customer is seen as clever and necessary to “get the gold.”

In some arenas, people who won’t “bend the rules” or “crush the competition” are even considered weak and not aggressive enough to succeed. Whether it’s fouling the environment or ruining someone else’s life, conventional thinkers seem to accept these consequences as necessary to success. “It’s a dog-eat-dog world,” they say, and the trick is to not be the one who gets eaten. No matter how you slice it, the ends don’t justify the means.

It’s important to understand that in our culture everything we’ve been taught about success is backwards in a number of ways. Unconventional success recognizes that the pie is big enough for everyone. Our real competition is with ourselves to become better than whom we were or what we produced yesterday. It’s not about competing against or crushing someone else.

This is what I call the “new success”. Instead of stepping on people to get to the top, collaborate and help bring people with you.

To achieve that thing called “success,” first you need to know what it is for you. Your personal definition of success will be unique to you. It’s not how your parents defined success (though you may agree with them on some measures) and it’s not what our culture defines as success. It’s not what I define as success for me and it’s not what your guru tells you. It’s your own unique definition and it’s important that you get clear about it. If you don’t, you’ll waste too much time following someone else’s definition of success.

What would true success for you look like? Start unearthing what your picture of success looks like. Honestly, most of us don’t have a clue! We get so wrapped up in others’ ideas that we don’t form our own – and we don’t even know we’re doing it. Unconventional thinkers are fortunate because we have a built-in “early warning system” that tells us when others’ ideas don’t fit for us. It’s called a gut reaction, and this is the time for that gut check.