Success: Achievement vs Fulfillment

If you’re like most leaders, you’re used to planning for achievement—or what I like to call ‘head success’. But this is only half of the equation. Head success is about reaching goals you set like revenue growth, profit, market share, personal wealth, possessions and vacations.

If you want a sense of satisfaction, you need to plan for enjoyment and fulfillment—aka ‘heart success’. This requires designing how you want to feel about yourself and your life when you wake up every day.

Everyone has their own definition of heart success. You may want to feel energized, influential and connected to people you love. You may want to feel like you are making a profound difference in the world, and evolving as a human being.

However you define it, you need to sort out what heart success is to you so it can be part of your game plan.

If you play your cards right, you’ll be able to look back, decades from now, with zero regrets. This is the true test of an amazing life.

Here’s a true story to think about until next week, when I’ll walk you through the first three of six steps to creating an amazing life plan.

Robert’s Story

By the time he was 36, Robert had made more money than any other person in the history of his family. He built his business from the ground up, and it could reasonably be called an empire.

For much of his career, Robert had an unstoppable focus on work, with the goal of accumulating wealth and security for his loved ones.

Trouble is, all Robert knew how to do was make money, and save money. His financial position was ridiculously solid, but he couldn’t bring himself to spend beyond the essentials—at all.

He dreamed of taking his family on vacations. He imagined buying pricey gifts for his kids. He longed for the day he would buy his hardworking, rough-and-tumble dad a new set of pipes for his Harley.

Robert had a generous heart, but he was so hard-wired to build wealth that, despite his best intentions, he couldn’t part with his cash.

Finally the day came when his father’s health faded, and it was clear he didn’t have long to live. And it changed everything. Robert spent $5,000 to buy that set of exhaust pipes, and his dad’s Harley never sounded louder, or felt more satisfying. His dad rode that upgraded bike only once before he died, but the joy he experienced gave Robert a whole new take on money. He finally understood he needed to expand his definition of success.

His whole life he had seen success through one lens: his wealth goals. All decisions were based on maximizing his financial position. He learned to methodically weigh enjoyment of life as part of his decision-making criteria. This may sound simple and obvious, but for many driven people like Robert, it’s a revelation.

Now, in addition to building wealth, Robert makes a concerted effort to create joy for himself and others. He bought the waterfront home he and his wife always wanted. He took his family on a trip around the world, and proudly owns a membership at a private track for car racing.

Sometimes that old perspective creeps up again, wanting Robert to pinch pennies and limit his enjoyment of life. When it does, he remembers his dad’s Harley, and switches to a broader perspective.

This is the second article in the Living an Amazing Life series. Other posts include: