You don't have to be happy to be successful.
In fact, you can be downright depressed and successful. Lots of celebrities are (at least intermittently).
Or you can be mean and be successful (hello politicians).
Or just not really a good person (hello all people doing bad while in positions of power).
While it's nice to think that there is some type of correlation there, the reality is that being happy and being externally or materially "Successful" aren't correlated.
Instead, the reality is that being happy and having external "success" are two different games.
In my work with founders and entrepreneurs, I focus on working with people who want to be both fulfilled and successful.
- You are ambitious, but you don't want to sacrifice your life.
- You want to scale, but you don't want to burn out.
- You want success and enjoy material goods, but you don't want to feel terrible throughout the entire process of getting there.
You want both success and fulfillment, no either or.
I think about this process of development as a 4x4 quadrant:
- Active = I am getting results and taking action. This is material, worldly, or external versions of "success." Major progress is key here. I use active because just a sense of action and progress is enough to make you feel good in this quadrant.
- Inactive = I am unable to take action or get results. This is when we're unable to create momentum towards our goals or make progress. I'm stuck. This is where we're not having external rewards or success.
- Fulfilled = My experience of life/work is positive. This is when we have really good days. I feel on purpose or aligned in what I do.
- Unfillfilled = My experience of life is not what I'd like it to be at all. This is when life is very difficult or we have really bad days. This is high stress or high misalignment between who we are to what we do.
Moving around the quadrant, there is "Active" and "Unfulfilled."
This is when despite producing external results, you feel low.
Sadly this happens after years of struggle to get to the external rewards, only to find yourself unfulfilled by it all.
Then there is "Inactive" + "Fulfilled."
This could be a monk who is in bliss, yet has no worldly success.
Or it could be that you have more ambition than you see results, yet you still generally have a great experience of life. This is probably preferable to the previous state.
Then there is "Inactive" and "Unfulfilled."
This is the most difficult quadrant to be in by far. If you're down and unable to make progress how you want to, life is really difficult.
The target: "Active" and "Fulfilled."
This means that we both have an incredible experience internally of life, and we are producing external results and material success.
If we are to move around this quadrant, it seems that the target is really to have both: External success, with an incredible internal experience of life.
Having this quadrant helps you understand which game you might want to learn how to become better at.
Some people will think that they can delay getting to one quadrant – that they can put off wordly success, or that they can put off internal happiness.
That may work, but there is also a large risk to that approach, namely working in one quadrant for years or decades only to find yourself with less fulfillment than you imagined at that future date.
Some people think that if they have the internal experience they want, the results will come, but that's not necessarily true either.
If we are to have really good days, it means feeling a sense of purpose and fulfillment while we take action towards our purpose.
The good news: All success is relative; meaning that simply the act of having growth, no matter how small, can be all we need to feel fulfilled. And success, no matter how small, and feel like all the success in the world.
Just signing your first customer can feel as good as signing your 10th.
Just having a slightly better day than the day before can give you the sense of growth that you're craving and makes life worth living.
I think any of us if we had the option would spend our lives in that green quadrant; feeling both fulfilled and finding external success.
Where are you in this 4x4? And is it where you want to be?
The first step is to see clearly and accept reality for what it is now.
If you're finding yourself in quadrants that you don't want to be in for too long, you might want to consider a change.
Any step forward of progress will immediately help you improve your state. Just the journey towards improving is enough.
I hope that helps and that you have a great week,
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