I gave a talk recently to a group of wildly ambitious leaders.  They were young and hungry and striving so hard to build, accomplish, accumulate and achieve.   They defined my success as something they wanted.. and grilled me for hours about how to get it.

The more we talked, the less interested they became.  I’ve recognized this before.. I knew what was coming.

People see outward success and want it so bad.  Then, when they seek to understand what it takes, they want a specific plan, a road map and a list of steps and a packaged approach…  “Do this, now, do this next, do it like this, say it like this and success will come….”  .  They want it shiny and sexy and animated.  Bling.  They want lots of bling.thumbs up

For a long time, I’d do these gigs and I’d get all jazzed up and talk about a cool innovation I was working on, tricks of the trade… I’d dazzle them with an interesting approach and ideas they could mull over and try to implement, I’d have a power point and a new phrase for them to learn.  I’d interrupt them and be all jacked up and animated, engaging the crowd and entertaining everyone with colorful language and impactful rhetoric.

But lately, I just can’t seem to muster up the energy to do that anymore.  The bullshit of it all sorta makes me sick. Now, I tend to find myself being honest, telling them what really matters, what success really means, what behaviors and principles and practice really looks like on a daily basis.

Truth is, I’m at the top of my game— what I have to offer now is so much better than the rhetoric and all the colorful animation.  I finally have significant sustainable success and it was much much much simpler than what I had thought, tried or talked about.

But they are right—it’s not as shiny, not as cool, not as sexy.

In fact, it’s so simple and straightforward, they literally don’t believe me.

They look around at each other and they seem to be searching for a way to reconcile what I’m saying with the results I clearly have.   Quickly, they lose interest in me and what I have to say and they gravitate towards whoever is most animated and full of bling.  They don’t want to believe that who they are matters more than what they know.

I totally get it….

Working on yourself first is hard.  But that’s what success is.

Telling the rigorous truth to yourself and everyone else is hard.  But that’s what success is.

Being totally authentic and 100% you is hard, it means you have to do the inner work to define yourself.. but that’s what success is.

Being confident and a fierce advocate and having a moral standard is hard, but that’s what success is.

Living an authentically joyful life means you have to do all the personal stuff, you have to define what really matters and live your truth and you simply must develop a strong spirit and become clear about the reality of things… it’s really hard work, but that’s what success is.

Loving yourself, claiming your talents, owning your shortcomings, believing that we always have enough.. it’s hard.  But that’s what success is.

Being KIND rather than right takes humility and practice, it’s sometimes so hard you think it’s impossible… but that’s what success is.

Doing simple, over and over and over again, then waking up and doing it again, not being distracted, remaining focused and hell-bent and avoiding the distractions that our minds create— on some days it’s nearly impossible.. but that’s what success is.

Cultivating loving-kindness to all, practicing compassion, staying in curiosity, letting go of judgements, growing no matter what, waking up early, being relentlessly focused on mindfulness and your inner well-being— it’s so hard… and yet this is what success is.

You can’t buy it—you can’t go to a convention booth and order the enhanced version of success.   It takes constant, rigorous practice and a hell-bent focus of putting one foot in front of the other, chopping wood and carrying water— showing up when you don’t want to and cultivating an inner life that radiates out into the world.

I try to always remind these people that people will do or not do business with you based 90% on who you are and 10% on what you know.

It’s seriously simple and their is nothing easy about simple.

It works when you work it.


curious for more?