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The Smell of Success

By Irene Becker

Today, different definitions of success abound. Definitions that ascribe simple linear formulas, quick steps or a consciousness of prosperity/wealth/abundance as the linchpins that will help us acquire success. The plethora of this success-directed material contains some worthwhile information and sells well, but it also smells. The smell comes not from the fact that books and treatises on success do not contain relevant information (they do), but rather that we live in an environment of constant change, challenge and competition that demands a new definition of success - one that cannot be focused on a single financial bottom line, or on fluffy stuff that give us a fleeting sense of emotional wellbeing.

Prosperity, or the illusion of prosperity that our debt laden society provides, has not led us to have more leisure time, as was the forecast a generation ago, nor has it helped us live better lives, build better relationships, or build better businesses and organizations. The average American CEO has a tenure of two years, and one in five North Americans suffers from the physical or emotional ravages of stress.

After our survival needs have been met, success cannot be realized by the simple financial bottom line but is the derivative of the purpose, passion and potential we express in our personal lives and in our jobs.

The fundamental basis for human success, after our basic survival needs have been met, speaks to the basic human desire to validate our existence not by what we get, but rather by what we can give. Our greatest pain does not come from what we cannot have, but rather from the invalidation that we feel, at not expressing our potential in our lives and our work. Potential that can only be expunged and expressed when we go back to the simple truth that the values that are most near and dear to us are the fabric that builds satisfaction and meaningful success. Values that remain more important than ever in a society where stress and discontent fill our lives, our workplaces and our communities. Values that can lead us to create a better bridge between our heads and our hearts, between the power that exists when we align our best self with our best work and focus on our power to create our best world.

Often we are too busy, too pressured or too distracted to think about the basic simple fact that the values that we hold near and dear will EITHER conflict with the way we are living and working and cause us undue stress and inner conflict OR alternatively, we can stretch and grow those values to help us decrease stress and increase success in our lives and our workplaces.

It is time to begin again to build lives, businesses and organizations that mirror the universal values that speak to an evolution of self, an evolution of leadership, and an evolution of organizations — by creating a values bridge between what is and what can be: a better self, better life, better businesses, better organizations and a better world.

How much better would you feel if you took your best self to work and to play each day, by living the values that you hold near and dear? How much more efficient and effective would your organization be if you could take the mission statement off the plaque on the wall and put it into play, in real life and real time?

Here are four questions to ponder. Four questions that can help you plant the seeds for more success and less stress:

  1. What is your purpose and how is this purpose expressed in your personal life and your work?
  2. What is your greatest fear/stressor and how does this fear/stressor limit your personal and professional vision and your potential?
  3. What are your three most important values?
  4. What can you do today to extinguish fear/stress by bringing your three most important values to life in your personal and professional environment?
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