Too  many people measure how successful they are by how much money they make  or the people that they associate with. In my opinion, true success  should be measured by how happy you are.” 

––Richard Branson, founder of The Virgin Group

What does success mean to you? 

Success  isn’t the amount of money in your bank account, and it certainly isn’t a  goal that you attain. Success, in my eyes and in my life has always  been living my life on my own terms. 

If  you look in the dictionary, success is defined as so many things  including “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.” But I believe we  need a new way of defining the experience of success to include how we  hold it in our own mind’s eye. Because if we limit our idea of success  to the accomplishment of one aim or purpose, then we all know what  happens. We begin to ask what’s next? Not satisfied with one  accomplishment we look to another. What happens if we don’t accomplish  the next goal? Are we immediately a failure? Maybe then, Thomas Edison’s  point of view holds true–– 

“Success is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration.” 

But  not in my reality. I believe there is an effortless component to  success. Do you know that not everyone wants to be successful in the way  of Thomas Edison? When we talk about success in terms of hard work  alone, it is easy to understand that not everyone wants to be  successful. Not in the conventional wisdom of success, anyway––an  infinite, sliding scale. 

Success  shouldn’t be something you have to redefine with every carrot offered  or the next climb on the professional mountain. When will we ever get to  the top if we are always reclaiming our success with every change in  the wind?

“To  live the lives we truly want and deserve, and not just the lives we  settle for, we need a third metric. The third measure of success that  goes beyond the two metrics of money and power, and consists of four  pillars: well-being, wisdom, wonder, and giving.” 

–– Arianna Huffington, Huffington Post co-founder

In my opinion, success isn’t about acquiring any one thing or attaining any one goal it’s about a lifestyle. 

Many  people are fine with anything they do, and they have no motivation to  become better or improve anything in their lives! To put it simply, they  are happy, like Richard Branson says. So by his definition, they are  already successful. 

At  the same time, many other people work hard to reach their definition of  success, and it is not always achieved. The reality of success is that  it is so relative. I think that a happy person who doesn’t seek success  is more successful in life than a miserable one running after success  from his point of view!

Success  for a mathematician is to solve a problem, success to an author is to  write a novel, success to an athlete is to win a game or achieve their  personal best. Success for a parent is to raise happy, healthy children  who contribute to society. 

To  me, real success involves the feeling of fulfillment even with little  accomplishments or steps we make. Like Lao Tzu says, “the journey of a  thousand miles begins with a single step.” That single step is not only  brave but the definition of success in my eyes. 

In my recently released book, HEARTBEATS OF THE MIND, I  discuss success with Albert Einstein and Fatima Mernissi during our  fictional meeting at my favorite café in Paris. Here is an excerpt:

“What  is your best piece of advice for me today, Albert, as I sit in Paris on  this beautiful afternoon contemplating my love affair of questions?” I  asked.

“Let me tell you a story,” Einstein said.

I nodded.

“In  1922, I received a message from a bell boy, I didn’t have any money for  a tip, so I decided to leave him something much more valuable,” he  said. “I took out a note and scribbled a few lines down on some paper.”

I took a sip of champagne not really thinking much of the story.

“I wrote my theory of happiness,” he said.

“And what did it say?” He got my attention. 

“A  calm and modest life brings more happiness than the constant pursuit of  success combined with constant restlessness,” he said.

“A peaceful life and a peaceful mind are the keys to happiness,” I said.

“Indeed,” he said. “The trouble is, our mind is constantly trying to solve problems.”

“What a luxury it would be to free ourselves of constant questions and doubts,” Fatema said.

“True,  but perhaps it would be better to embrace them. Cooperate with our  curiosity rather than becoming overwhelmed and turning it off,” Einstein  countered. 

There really isn’t a great way to outthink a genius, but I enjoyed trying. I think Maya Angelou said it best––

“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”

How  do you define success? What is success like in your reality? Do you  like your lifestyle? Would you say you are happy? What is the single  step you recently made on your thousand-mile journey? 

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