My sweetheart James recently went to a funeral for a childhood friend who struggled with alcoholism and depression.
It wasn't a happy life, but still, there were things to celebrate.
At the gathering, James talked about his friend's open, warm personality.
He shared moments of genuine laughter and spoke of the spark under all the emotional pain.
It was the spark he remembered.
I asked James about his friend's family and his expression changed.
"His father's a successful heart surgeon," he told me. "And he's exactly as I remembered him. Dismissive. Void of any warmth."
"Perhaps it was grief," I offered.
"No," James said. "He's always been emotionally distant. I was talking about the beautiful heart of his son, and he was talking about the steak—how it came from the best beef in the country."
Ah, I thought. Successful-Not-Successful.
I see this a lot—people who are really good at what they DO, yet are also completely disconnected from their hearts and the hearts of others.
This isn't a judgement. We're conditioned by society to value achievement over presence and connection. We're expected to be boundaryless with work at the expense of our health and the people we love.
I recently heard a woman tell about a time she was interviewed by a prominent female executive. She saw a picture of young children on the boss-lady's desk and asked if they were hers.
"Yes, but I never get to see them," the executive said. "They're asleep by the time I get home."
True success goes beyond financial security and is measured in terms of well-being, inner peace, and feelings of connection and belonging.
It's not driven by fear.
Yes, we need to be able to support ourselves and pay our bills. We need to eat and put food on the table. But there are SO MANY WAYS to do this without short-changing ourselves in the process.
It really IS possible to be Successful-Successful, you know. But first you have to get clear about what success really means for YOU.
Then you'll need to get intentional about the commitments you make—to the world, to your family, to yourself and your own inner development. True success involves boundary work, relational work, and a willingness to challenge the current-day focus on nonstop DOING.
If you just came here to climb the corporate ladder, have at it!
But if you're here to experience your authentic self and create a life of deeper meaning, don't follow the path laid out for you by others.
Follow the spark inside you, love.
It will take you to a place of inner accomplishment and personal fulfillment.
In other words . . .
Sending you so much love,