“Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.” -The Dalai Lama XIV
It is an odd and painful irony that often just as things are really coming together successfully in life, we often lose touch with the love that had inspired us to get there. We expect just the opposite. In our longings for whatever we aspire to, we believe wholeheartedly that achieving our dreams and succeeding in our plans will bring us only happiness. The reality is just the opposite. More often than not, great success and windfall opportunity doesn’t connect us more deeply to what we love doing or the people we love. Rather, it increases our stress levels and turns our heartfelt work into a need to prove something or, worse still, a fear of failure.
I feel like a poster child for this success boomerang effect having recently been selected for a remarkable distribution growth opportunity for Good Clean Love. It’s no wonder people warn “be careful what you wish for…” because most of us associate success with singular, simple emotions of happiness, accomplishment or pride. Succeeding is in fact as complex an emotional process as its opposite: failure.
Culturally we promote the collective fantasy of overnight success, akin to a stroke of luck or a moment of good fortune. In fact, any true success story mostly bears witness to the intense amount of attention, focus and perseverance that its fulfillment required. I have been loving, or at least seriously attentive to, my mission at Good Clean Love for ten years and stayed with it by redefining my concept of success by counting lives inspired by love. In addition, I am also counting growth curves on an Excel sheet. Suddenly, with the opportunity to experience both, I have to admit being surprised by how quickly I could lose the deeper connection to my work.
It is insidious, this boomerang effect. I didn’t notice how all the little details that only recently were the petty annoyances of any business endeavor had become so weighty on my shoulders. I wasn’t conscious of how my sense of time had subtly shifted into a continuous pressure by an underlying urgency to get things done. I couldn’t have named the moment when my excitement about this new opportunity was replaced with a sticky mix of anxiety and self-importance. Most unfortunate, what was lost momentarily was my own connection about what I love to do and the deep why that had generated the passion to succeed in the first place.
Lucky for me, we had a little sun break in a long string of dreary days that got me out walking in the woods with a dear friend. She listened attentively as I listed my collected accounts of stress. Then, as we neared home, she gave me a great gift. She said, “You know though, that the only thing that matters, that has any durability in this world, has nothing to do with success or power… It is only love. All the rest crumbles; even the greatest empires. It is only love that changes the world for good.” Of course, I knew this, I have heard myself say it a million times, but yesterday as the sky turned my favorite color of evening rose, I got it again.
The doing has to be for love. This is where it has to start and, at the end of time, it is the only finish line. Making a love story successful whether in a business or in a relationship is about coming back over and over again to the work, for its own sake.
Oprah, has this to say on real success: “I’ve come to believe that each of us has a personal calling that’s as unique as a fingerprint – and that the best way to succeed is to discover what you love and then find a way to offer it to others in the form of service, working hard, and also allowing the energy of the universe to lead you.” This is a success model I can believe in.