The reason why I love successful entrepreneurs so much is because they think up ways to succeed that are unique, and frankly, so fun. They create unique ways to enjoy the process of achieving love, security and significance by creating it for others.
For instance, an article from the Economic Times tells the story of how Elon Musk started his first company, Zip2, in 1995 with $100K in student loans and no cash. Did that stop him? Nope. He created a computer he built himself because he couldn’t afford to buy one. He showered at the YMCA. In order to make rent he created something novel by turning his apartment into a night club, charging $5 a person.
He could have just given up, gotten a job he didn’t like and paid off his student loan over the next decades. But instead, he found the security he needed at the Y. He created what he needed on his own. He gained status and maybe love from his own apartment. Was he scared? Maybe so. But he found options that he knew would work. How did he know they would work? Because he believed he could. He made logical decisions that he wouldn’t have thought of if he let his fear rule his life instead of his dreams.
So when you feel that fear, that disappointment, that overwhelm, take a step back. Remember that you are safe. You are loved. You are worthy. Because of YOU.
I know you want to be successful. Financially, physically, emotionally successful. But the problem is, you thought you already did all the things that would bring success. You’re a good person. You take care of those you love. You got an education and gained a profession that you’re good at. But now that you accomplished all the things, you still aren’t happy.
You’re just working real damn hard supporting it all, but you still don’t have the money, the health, and the connection you thought you were working for. Which makes you feel like a failure – the opposite of success. Then you feel guilty because you wasted all that time and all those resources, and you don’t appreciate your privilege. And scared that what you do have might be lost if you don’t continue on the path you’ve created.
But you’re wrong. This thought stream is what I call toilet bowl of doom thinking. We all do it. The fact of the matter is, you are successful. You’ve made it this far, and you can’t even imagine what’s in store for you. Just around the corner.
I know this to be true, because I’ve seen it in my life. Over and over again. Yet even I forget sometimes, and fall into the vortex of Doom.
As I’m saying this, you may be thinking “I’m tired of feeling like this, and wasting my life still trying to figure out how to be successful.” Which is exactly why you need to hear what I’m about to tell you.
Here’s the crux of it. The brutal truth. You had a plan, and you executed it. But you missed the mark somewhere. Does that mean you failed? Heck no! It means you’re still not there So you pivot. You redirect. You evaluate where you are from here. You may have and likely did do everything right, but you don’t live in a vacuum. Life, the market, your industry and all people evolve and chance, and so must you. So let’s evolve together.
Now that I’ve got your attention, let’s make sure you’re going where you actually want.
What is your definition of success?
Is it a definition that is achievable, and are you actually moving towards it in a logical and proven way?
If obstacles arise, will you be able to pivot to continue towards your goal, with new information, or are you going to keep slogging your way through even though it’s not working?
When you achieve it will you actually feel fulfilled and content? What will life be like> What experiences will your day be full of?
To me, success is achieved through a combination of joy in this moment, no matter the circumstances, and a passion for your vision of the future. What makes this sustainable success?
Because it takes into account that you are already successful when you feel joy and fulfillment, just as you are. If you truly embody this concept, you don’t need more love, status and safety. You already have enough. It comes from you.
WTF are you talking about, you might be wondering. How in the heck am I going to believe that I am loved, safe and significant without people around me, a fortress covering my head and people following me on IG? And if I DO feel that way, what’s stopping it all from getting taken away?
“…when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”– Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
Without being mystical, it’s because you already are capable of providing all the love, safety and worth for yourself. Just as you are. It doesn’t matter if your money, your home, your friends are taken away. Because you are money. You can create it all any time you want. Nobody else can provide money for you. You create the value that drives money. Nobody can provide you with shelter that makes you feel safe. You are already safe because you are responsible for your own well being and you foster your own health. Nobody can give you the love you need. You cultivate people and an environment that harbors love. It’s your job to allow that potential to continue to unfold. In the way that only you can allow it.
If you want that, everyone and everything around you will fall into place for you to achieve it. Or, more logically speaking, you will see the resources around you instead of ignoring or missing them. When you’re focusing on the love, safety and significance of your life, you’ll start to notice it’s everywhere around you, and you just need to line it all up to serve you.
And not in the spiritual bypassing sort of way where you tell yourself everything is beautiful and wonderful. It’s not. It’s life and sometimes it’s really damn hard! Instead, evaluate the facts around you and form the connection between them and your version of success, so that you can make a rational decision about what to choose to try next.
When you have this knowledge in your pocket, and you forget that success is there, you’ll be equipped to put on your positive panties and start again. Not start over. Just start again. Because you can only move forward from where your life is right now.
Which is damn refreshing, don’t you think? And… a little bit exciting? Everything is just another experiment, another lottery of playing the odds and making life more plausible, more possible, and more inevitable.
In order to see your success and logically pull yourself out of the toilet, clarify what you really want, and make sure you’re moving towards it instead of buffering and wasting time on something else.
So why don’t we already know this and move towards our goals with abandon? Vishen Lakhiani, as the founder of Mind Valley, has had a great influence on me during my years of exponential growth, and one of my favorite concepts he teaches is about goals. He explains that most people aren’t happy because they spend their whole lives chasing goals that are actually a means to an end, so they don’t realize what they truly want and what will make them happy. He terms these means goals. Ends goals, he explains, are where you want to be. In his book the Code of the Extraordinary Mind, he explains that if you chase the wrong prize, you’re going to end up disappointed. So choose the right goal. Ends goals are the reward of living life and being human in this world, and they include experiences, growth and contribution.
I love this concept, although my interpretation is slightly different. I believe that growth and contribution are experiences, just lived through the lenses of safety, significance and love.
When it comes down to it, lasting joy is a result of experiencing love, significance and safety, which are all the root of your ends goals.
There are an infinite number of ways to obtain these experiences, some of which serve you and the world, and some of which are ultimately harmful. Either way, because they are in an indirect path to reach lasting joy and fulfillment through love, sagely or significance, they are a means to the end. Means goals attempt to achieve love, status and safety from outside sources. They don’t entirely quench your need for joy and fulfillment, however. This is because of two trapdoors. Trapdoor number one is that you can lose them, so there is always a fear that there’s not enough or that it will run out. Trapdoor two is that once you obtain what you were working towards, you change your perspective and get used to it.
How do you keep your eye on your true happiness through ends goals instead of getting sucked up into chasing means goals?
In the end, the trick is knowing you alone are responsible for fulfilling your own love, security and worth. It’s who you actually are, by default. You just need to cultivate the awareness of your innate internal resources.
I’ve learned to cultivate this awareness through a combination of the art and science of how our minds work. As a physician, I learned all the neurophysiology and neurobiology of the brain. The relationship between the physical brain and how we think, feel and act, illustrated by countless psychology studies and anecdotal personal case stories, is fascinating as we continue to learn more every day. One thing is for certain in my mind. The interconnections in the brain and the electrical and hormonal interactions that occur there are responsible for your thoughts, feelings and memories. And not only does this structure affect function, but the function affects and modulates the actual physical structure. Yep. This is the scientific description of embodiment. Your brain, your mind, and your body are intertwined in the most amazing way. With this in mind, I coach myself and others with the understanding that your thoughts and emotions are an intimate component of the structure of your brain, and in this way you are responsible for your own literal brain connections. I reinforce the connections that serve me through formal and informal mindfulness practices and cognitive based evaluation of my thought patterns. In this way, I theoretically continuously update the structure and function of my own brain, and I teach others how to do the same. And whether that is actually happening or not, it sure feels like the type of progress I want to make in my life.
Mindfulness, according to Jon Kabat-Zinn in his book Full Catastrophe Living, is paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally. Which means observing your thoughts, emotions and the circumstance, and separating the drama from what it truly is, so that you can listen to who you really are and make sound decisions from there.
Once you see all the drama you’re making for yourself, or that others are contributing to, you can logically update those circuits through cognitive based approaches to decrease the noise.
And there you have it. In order to go after your dreams without ruining your life right now is to realize that everything you need and desire is right in front of you. You are innately whole, complete and perfect, exactly as you are. So enjoy this moment. Right now. And now. And now. Enjoy the process as you unfold into the successful person who you can’t even imagine you will become.
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