When my clients ask me to summarize success in one word, my reply is always: balance.
My life experiences have taught me that fulfillment is much more than the digits in our bank accounts and impressive titles on our business cards.
True success is always accompanied with fulfillment.
In order to feel fulfilled, however, we must consider challenging the dominant definition of success: money.
I believe that success should be a balance along five categories: loving relationships, good health, intellectual stimulation, spiritual development, and financial security. The progress we make towards our goals and passions should be measured against these five categories and not money alone.
I would not accept a life that lacked one of the other four categories in exchange for any amount of money, because balance among these is the key to my fulfillment and true happiness.
Now, I would not be surprised if you are saying: "That's crazy…I'd sacrifice any/one of those things for $100 Million!" In fact, many of us may be willing to let go of loving relationships, good health, intellectual stimulation, and/or spiritual development for money.
But if my words ring true in the next few paragraphs, you may just rethink how crazy I am.
Like John Wooden, I believe that love is the most important part of life.
No amount of money would make a life devoid of love for and from family and friends a worthy one. Love gives us the strength and courage we need to pursue our goals and passions, and what is success if there is no one with whom we can share our joy and accomplishment?
We will have to make sacrifices on the long road of success, but many "successful" people have experienced the tremendous regret of prioritizing money and power over those they loved—either voluntarily, (i.e., the disintegration of a marriage and family) or involuntary (i.e., death).
Create space for giving and receiving love as you pursue your passions and goals.
Until they lose it, many people take good physical and mental health for granted.
We all know that we should exercise and eat well, but too many people take their eyes off their physical and mental health while in the pursuit of their career aspirations.
Early in my management consulting career, I worked on programs and projects so stressful that multiple executives went to the hospital with heart problems. We must ask ourselves, “What is money and wealth worth if I am too unwell to enjoy my life?”
With good health, we enjoy the energy and well-being needed to chase our dreams.
The human brain is the world's most powerful super-computer. The average brain has 100 billion nerve cells (neurons) connected by 100 trillion synapses.
Not stimulating the brain is like having a Lamborghini in your garage and never taking it out for a spin.
If we are not challenging the frontiers of our intellect through good conversations, artistic pursuits, self-learning, education, and more, we are not exercising a vital part of our being. And without exercise, it will atrophy and we may one day find ourselves living our life in auto-pilot.
It is through the pursuit of intellectual stimulation that we can discover, develop, and perfect our unique gifts.
Spiritual development is about learning to love oneself and all living beings, and living life for a purpose bigger than one’s own self-centered desires.
There is nothing more fulfilling than sharing unconditional love with others. Speaking from my experience of mentoring high-risk teens throughout my corporate career, there was never a bonus, raise, or promotion that meant more to me than knowing I was having a positive impact in the lives of my mentees.
As you pursue your goals and passions, do not forget to nurture yourself and give back to your community, our planet, and the world.
Money is not unimportant.
On the contrary, financial security is crucial to one's ability to foster loving relationships, good health, intellectual growth, and pursue a purpose bigger than one’s immediate physical needs.
However, we should not trade any of the other factors of a truly successful life for money alone. Life is the pursuit of true joy and fulfillment, and money is only one piece of that equation.
What is Success to You?
Balance in these five categories — loving relationships, good health, intellectual stimulation, spiritual development, and financial security — gives us the long-term capacity to pursue our goals and passions, and also makes the pursuit of these goals and passions a joy.
As you chart the journey to your dreams, always use balance as your compass.