Living the Dream: Equilibrium is the Measure of Success

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Over a glass of wine, a friend recently told me she was the luckiest person in the universe. She said, “I have it made.” Her pursuit of a career as a wine maker led her to Napa Valley. She spent days outside in the vineyards, working with field hands and friends who work in the wine industry. In the evenings, she has relaxing dinners with her husband and two young children. She drives a beat-up old Jeep and takes her dog with her everywhere. She makes about $60,000 per year and is successful.

Another friend is a venture capitalist. He says, “I am living the dream!”  He spends his days with his partners on Sand Hill Road in California looking at deals and working with entrepreneurs all day. He says, “I see the future every day.” He works long hours and travels. At times he is away from his family.  When he can, he gets out for helicopter skiing and owns homes in several locations. He is sought after for advice from entrepreneurs around the world.  He makes several millions each year and is successful.

Both of my friends are telling the truth — they are both successful because the measures of success are legion. There is no metric for success that applies to all of us. We all seek and find different elements of life and work that make us successful, at least in our own eyes. As I have observed others who are successful, I believe that secret to success is about equilibrium. The variables to that equilibrium to me, and many others, are a combination of:

  •  Passion – Are you doing something you love, whether it’s working, or creating art, or caring for children?
  • Impact — Can you wake up every day and say, “I am making an impact”? Do you make the world just a little better every day? Or at least try?
  • Security — Do you not worry about money because you have enough to pay the bills?
  • Relationships — Do you get to spend time with the people you care about?
  • Looking forward — Are you looking forward with optimism and not living in the past? Are you not dwelling on regrets or past glories?

For most, these variables are intertwined and play off of each other. Sometimes you may have to sacrifice one for the other and throw yourself out of equilibrium, I know I have done that. Too many people sacrifice passion in order to make big money.

In the examples of my friends the wine maker and the venture capitalist, each has achieved a sense of equilibrium between the work they love, their family and their financial needs.

I found my equilibrium on the day I stopped looking for something better. I knew that if all of those equilibrium factors could come together in a positive way, a feeling of success would ensue. The feeling may come and go at different times in life, with different careers and as needs change. Adjust as needed and capture it and rejoice when you can.

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