Success Or Satisfaction?


It is an adventure, writing an article on my special presentation Success Or Satisfaction.


Everyone wants them both, success and satisfaction. And everyone questions, is it possible to have them both?


But nobody thinks that satisfaction is possible along with success. I know many people who want to have satisfaction in their life but just don’t know how to begin.


Many years ago, I thought so too, that success is one thing and satisfaction is just not for successful people. Successful people work hard and satisfaction is for the lazies.

Like you I worked very hard in a corporate organization. For 12 years I worked in banking, before I retired and became an author, speaker and an instructor.  Sometimes, I even call myself an applied mythologist, because I work with mythology of an individual and the mythology of their business, or an applied neuroscientist, because I work with human behavior, through their neurology, and most of the time I think of myself as a transformational artist. Sometimes in the work that I do with others amazing things happen at a spectacular entrance for you into the future of your opportunities.


In a recent talk I gave to an audience of executive entrepreneurs in Atlanta, I said I realized why I like to speak to decision-makers. This is my favorite audience. They understand success. They have tasted success and want more. They are motivated.


So I asked the participants, how they define success?


Some said, it’s when you have money and status to prove you are worth it. Another said, success is when you achieved the top in your professional capacity.

The third one said,

success is when you have satisfaction that you are living your life in the way you want.


I wanted to examine this last definition of success. BEcause I happen to agree with it.


Many of you work very hard, and put everything on the line for success. You stay at work many hours, you give it your best years, you expect the return on this investment and the return must be tangible, right?


Now most of the time I find that the issue that people have is not at all psychological, or even physiological but mostly mythological. They are not telling themselves the right stories.


My idea is that the world is fundamentally malleable, and success is a transforming emergent concept. The story of success, therefore, is a story of what emerges from what you ( as in who you are) set out to desire.


I think that there’s a lot of interesting things going on in the world. Take a look at the stories that are being told in the news and in the movies, and how those stories capture us. Sometimes they capture our fascination and direct us forward and they allow us to do things we otherwise wouldn’t be able to do.


Unfortunately, sometimes stories capture us and keep us contained and stop us where we are.


Many successful people come to me when they are in their thirties, forties, and even sixties, looking for the meaning of their lives. We identify with looking for purpose in life, because it creates a meaningful drive for our own progress and satisfaction with the success we achieve, what we do, where we are going. But this is like looking at the mountain covered with snow, in the middle of winter, and thinking this snow is the mountain itself.


Well that’s what we’ve done with the meaning of the concept of success.


We think we can prepare and expect that things will go our way. And then when they don’t we don’t like it.


Why are there people who can keep calm and decisive in critical situations, and then there are others who freak out, break down and become unkind to themselves and others?


Why are some people able to keep focus under pressure and others freeze, like a deer in the headlights?


There are clever psychologists, who define the motivational drivers, that there are 10 or 16 or 24 of them and that we are all motivated by a specific drive. They chart out how to access that drive and enhance the motivation. I say they are full of it.


We think that what we think is the truth. But when we think we utilize only 5 percent of the brain power in one small area of our brain only on one right side by the way. You see, that what we think isn’t the truth, because we can’t know the whole truth, because we only are able to utilize 5 percent of our brain. So what we think isn’t even what we think we think, it’s only a small part of what we can acknowledge and recognize as thinking, and the rest happens out of our awareness.


So in schools we teach our children to only pay attention to what’s going on in one part of our brain but not what’s in out of our awareness. And they grow up limited by their own success to utilize the structure, linearity and language. And then they see all things that we talk about on the news and in the movies are hopelessness, helplessness, anxiety and the story of people who are now forty, fifty, sixty, or maybe even thirty who were promised an expectation of a certain level of comfort, success, and ease in their life at this point and yet there is this longing and dissatisfaction.


They were never told that they had to ransom their future and possibly the future of their children because given their current belief structure both are not possible.


Last February I delivered a 12-day training to a group of entrepreneurs in Israel.


As I conducted my class there were two kinds of stories going on in that country that are fundamentally the story of a point of view between the one side and the other. And no one wants to recognize that this is just a story, and the result is a profound philosophical and personal divide, that makes life in the country altogether unpredictable, dissatisfying and uncertain.


Here in New York we are still recovering from the recent hurricane Sandy, that took the power and water and in some cases their homes from many thousands of people in the Tri-State area, and we saw that some people made their decisions to stay or to leave on the basis of announced predictions, yet no one could predict with certainty.


No one knows what exactly is going to happen so those five-year-plans that are so popular don’t do anything and we still don’t know what’s going to happen.


Take December 21. Boy, wasn’t it the biggest spoof in the entire history of the Earth? The predicted last day of the world! I remember 10 years ago, when I found out about the end of the world coming, I made a decision to only do what I want, so when the end comes I could say that I have nothing to wish for, and I had all that I wanted, and that I am successful and satisfied.


So the question stands: Can we have success and satisfaction at the same time?


Take a breath. Yes, we can.


What do we need to start on the path toward success with satisfaction?


Imagine that you are without space or time, comfortable and free. Imagine that you are the way you want to be. You were put on this Earth with a purpose and you are a part of a bigger picture, with individual responsibility to yourself, interconnecting with others, and ultimately have a singular purpose to enjoy your living, having both success and satisfaction.


So next time you are alone, right now, take a breath and close your eyes and see yourself the way you want to be. Is it the same, or is it different from how you are now?


Many people choose to live a life following expectations of them of other people, and ultimately forget their own dream. My father taught me to get a good education. My father is a well recognized architect in Russia, and he is very persuasive, so before I knew it, I had a Ph.D. in architecture. But I didn’t feel the excitement or satisfaction from working in architecture, as my father did. So I quit.


Then I moved to the US. I went to Wall Street, earned my MBA and climbed up the ladder of success in a new industry. I remember waiting out the snow storm, sitting in the first class lounge one night on my way to a business meeting in Europe, and thinking about the deeper meaning of my existence. My life felt shallow and temporary. When I switched architecture to business, I switched industries, not the values. I switched the doing, not the being.


I had all the money and success I wanted in the doing. Now I had to address the being.

I was constantly under stress, didn’t eat right and began noticing my hips growing wider each year. I didn’t do anything aboutit, I just went out to get larger size clothes. Do you do this? Just pretended my growing overweight did not exist. I ate off schedule, unhealthy food, worked over 17 hours a day, and ultimately made myself unhealthy and unhappy. Then I was six sizes bigger then I am now! Subsequently other areas of my life began to suffer. I wanted a relationship, family and I could not make the space for it. I had the money but I could not buy what I wanted. My health was poor, I was dissatisfied, and spinning my wheels. Perhaps that sounds familiar to you, and you don’t know how to rewrite your story.


I was on vacation when the twin tower collapsed at 9/11, and with them my world collapsed. It was then I accepted my call to adventure.


I wanted my life back. I couldn’t get it, I was bound, I was limited, but I desperately wanted it back. So I said, “Enough!”


The dilemma arose: do I want to make more money doing what I’m just ok at, or do I want to enjoy my life and live with passion? There may be money or there may be not. There may be success, because there definitely would be success if there is passion!

And I thought, what if my life ended tomorrow?

Did I do what I was supposed to do?

And where is this feeling of accomplishments, satisfaction and fulfillment?


On December 21, this year, on the day of the Solstice, and the proposed End of the World, I recalled those questions.


Today I am a mentor for those who are still walking the path of success dissatisfaction.


See, the stuff we are thinking and believing is just a story. And here is the truth:

if you do not take control of your story, you will be living someone else’s story.


So the first thing to do before we reshape the world is to reshape our own story to take control of our own life, of the story we live ourselves. To make sure that we are living the story of our own life, our own path that reflects who we are and then success comes with satisfaction, with gusto, with passion. Then, we can begin to notice the meaning we make and the meaning we have in the world and in our own life.


Until we know who we are we can’t know what’s possible for the world. Until we know what we are capable of we can’t know what this company is capable of, what this country is capable of, or what this world is going to be.


So get out of your heads and your chairs and go out into the world, take joy and wonder in living and the fact that you have a body to do it with.


Then magic happens and the sense of satisfaction and fulfillment in your own life begins to help you write the story of your own meaning of success with satisfaction.


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