Welcome to the next level of successful people: The ultimate level of a life worth living.
“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”
What are our metrics for success?
Are we aiming at good goals in life?
Are we failing by success?
“Huh, that’s all?” I am asking myself that question as the meeting is coming to an end. All that career is ending just in a special 15 minutes event.
“You know, at my age…this was an offer I could not refuse. Working on sustainability is very exciting!”
He was lying back in his chair as those words were bouncing in my head through my headphones.
More than 30 years of career summarized in a special event of fewer than 15 minutes. He has everything I could imagine working for a big corporation in my wildest dreams.
As I hit the exit button on my web conference window, I could feel his exit from the company in an even tidier window.
I am still trying to understand what happened to him and how his journey brought him to that point. I am still questioning what it means to be successful and to climb the ladder of success and the price to pay for that.
The only explanation is that he was just at self-actualization in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. He feels his next move will help him reach the pyramid’s pinnacle: the Transcendence level.
I was already questioning what it meant to be successful in life. The event above confirmed what I was feeling from within.
CHAPTER 01: THE BOTTOMLESS PIT OF SUCCESS — Each of us has a variation of what we all are sold as success today.
We adore people who attain success as a monetary target. We all have been guilty of clicking on a video to know the secrets of wealthy people.
We just see the tip of the iceberg, the nice cars, the big mansions, the bloody smiles. Then, we look back at the mirror and feel like we have failed.
We teach our children in one way or another that the ultimate goal in life is to be successful, either by becoming rich or by being part of the powerful in private or public institutions.
We will bleed ourselves out just to be in the shoes of those wealthy and influential people. Unfortunately, we often forget the prices they pay behind closed doors to keep their castles afloat.
We are not saying that being rich or famous is a bad thing. We are just highlighting the fact that that is the only metric of what a successful life is.
When I see a high-ranking person leaving a company he spent more than 30 years in, I only imagine that there is more to life than success. We will explore more in the third chapter.
CHAPTER 02: THE HIDDEN ARROW OF GOALS — Be it through vision boards or top company goals, we all have been sold the power of setting goals as the only way to succeed.
We never ask ourselves if those goals are at least SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bounded). Even if those goals are smart, there is no guarantee achieving them will help us resolve our needs.
Often goals are aimed at focusing all our time and energy to reach them. Yet once we sit on the chair of our wildest dream in life, we see the pleasure fade away in the blink of an eye. We cannot stop asking ourselves the following question:
Is this what I have sacrificed my life for?
As we are shooting arrows to reach our goals, every miss will bounce back at us and affect us in some shape or form. As we are emptying our external bow, our internal one is being struck by the hidden arrows of goals setting.
In life, there is something more impactful than just reaching goals.
CHAPTER 03: THE TRANSCENDENT FORCE OF SIGNIFICANCE — Goals require a lot of energy and build hope in our minds. We often feel empty and disappointed once we have reached our goals in life.
Goals are like dams. They require a lot of energy accumulated for an extended period of time just to be released in one shot.
Goals are like a male orgasm. They build up quickly. And they fade away as fast as they come. Pun intended.
I am no woman. But I feel like there is more to that than just releasing the potential energy at a point of singularity. (Yes, bear with me, that is the power of the flow.)
Objectives are to goals what female orgasms are to males. They last longer. They are more energy efficient. And we can stack them back to back without waiting for ages.
In life, we must have objectives and not goals because objectives are not the end of the story. They are not the peak of the mountain we are climbing.
When I heard him say, “at my age…, sustainability…You cannot refuse….”, I felt he was not looking for success anymore. He was looking for something that transcends monetary success.
He was in search of significance: “the quality of being worthy of attention; importance.”
There is magic in significance that we cannot find in success. There is also a paradox. The magic is that we can all attain a certain degree of significance in our life if we are conscious of our impact.
The paradox is that we all are blinded by the flashlights of success, while most of us will never get the same opportunities, no matter how talented we are.
Indeed we can have an impact on people around us. Often we throw our negative impact on others. To avoid cognitive dissonance, we convince ourselves that the end justifies the means.
To balance the force, we must focus on objectives, not goals. We must not strive for momentary success to find alignment with our inner self. Instead, we must strive for a monumental impact at our scale. Only then can our significance transcend our success.
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You can read my previous article on That is the dilemma for every content creator: FCG is the new ECG! (Friendly link)