When we hear success stories and their secret, they are usually false. Not because the success is phony, but because what is commonly understood by success is, at best, completely out of date. For many of us, even toxic.
Success makes our lives more comfortable, more exciting, more beautiful. A bigger account, car, sales plus, house, pool, office than this year? To have the smarter wife, the more beautiful husband in your arms than the others? The finer vacation, the better restaurant, the newest gravel bike, the more valuable watch, clothes from the hottest high-street brands? Every year, fatter market share, margins and profits than before? Simply being able to afford more? There's nothing to be said against that in principle and until such time as coveting is not the goal and purpose of our actions.
But open your eyes! The driving force behind these goals lies in the demonized "if-then" story that we tell ourselves with great regularity. This story goes like this, "When I achieve XYZ, then I will be happy." In many cases, it's even true - for all too short a time.
We run after some want to have - as soon as we have it, we already want the next thing. In fact, it's not about the thing at all, but about the delicious happiness hormone dopamine, with which we flood ourselves at the moment of getting it. At the same moment, we set off an addictive spiral that is no different from any other addiction: We need another dopamine kick - and a bigger one than before. It comes, for example, first with the 5 Series BMW roaring around the corner, then with the 7 Series. Or, if things go well, in the trunk of a Tesla. At some point, you'll have everything double and triple - lots of watches, but still no more time. On the contrary. Here are a few more thoughts on the subject.
We know something similar from our professional success stories, in which most of us strive not only for a career with a good income and the best reputation, but also for self-fulfillment. Basically, nothing wrong with following the tempting calls of "do what you love, no matter what others say" and wrapping your "I've always wanted ..." in a "why", in other words: realizing yourself in the way of your dreams. Since I can not keep a secret, I'll tell you one thing here: every dream - beautiful or nightmare - ends with the awakening.
Yes, our dreams: mini-stories of maximum consequence, awakening included. When dreaming of success, Oscar Wilde sits on the edge of the bed and whispers in our ear: "When the gods want to punish us, they hear our prayers."
Follow your dream?
You certainly know those dreams in which you are standing poodle naked in the crowded subway in broad daylight and upon awakening are most relieved to realize that you are fortunately lying poodle naked in (your) bed. With dreams of self-realization, it's the other way around. You dream that when you finally, finally realize yourself, you will be able to draw from the full, but at the moment of awakening you notice that while your bank account and calendar are full, your gaze and soul are empty.
Why? You have what you want, but not what you need. Shice!
In my courses and coaching sessions in fiction writing, I call this circumstance "the twisted signpost." The heroes and heroines follow a false goal on the outside until they realize and understand in a big "aha! moment that the solution to their problems lies on the inside. In most cases, this is the decisive dynamic around which a story is built - from the great classical dramas to romantic comedy. Also in the story of our own lives. We run after our desires - and in doing so we miss our needs, our necessities. But how!
Because it just occurred to me with "the twisted signpost": If you want a really great tool (= official self-praise) to develop your stories, I recommend you The Bulletproof Story Development Tool from my offering program. This wonder thing will powerfully support you whether you're developing fiction, documentaries, marketing content, or anything else, and for a short time yet at a particularly enticing pre-launch price. Get all the info here.
Can we protect ourselves from this aberration?
Yes, provided we know the true secret of success. I'll tell you and ask you: Don't keep it to yourself, but share it! The best way to do this is by setting a good example.
The secret of success consists of the magic formula "E + R = F", thus:
Income+ Reputation= Success
Success (that's why it's called that, I think) is the consequence, the consequence of our actions and not the goal of our actions.
One more thing: Those who are successful in the conventional sense, that is, those applauded for their material treasures, make up the largest group of burnout, depression and alcoholism patients in broken families and failed relationships. Coincidence? I don't really know.
On the other hand, knowing who has something like Meaning in his life increases his life expectancy by up to seven years. This meaning does not necessarily have to be (only) in the job, but for people who spend a huge part of their waking time at work, it would be highly advisable.
And now I'm going to let you in on another secret: The vast majority of people we admire for their success in the outside world - Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Jane Goodall, "you name it" - don't have a career, a job, but they fulfill their task. Material success, i.e. income and reputation, is - correctly! - the consequence of their fulfilled task and not the goal.
Meaning has meaning.
It's the same with brands. For the past twelve years, brands that convey meaning have ranked highly in the Meaningful Brand Index have proven to be significantly(!) more successful than others. If the cash register is ringing in your mind's ear right now, it's as if you've been struck by tinnitus: These companies are successful as a result of their meaning. Meaning is not a marketing gimmick, despite all the temptation! I wrote up some thoughts on this here a while back. And here, too.
Ah yes: After all, the most lamented phrase in recent months among everyone in business is: "It's so hard to find good people". And it's no longer a secret: The number one deciding factor in whether employees choose a potential employer or not is not the money, but what the company stands for. The significance, the meaning, the task. E + R = F, you might say.
So let's listen to Viktor Frankl when he tells us: "The more man chases happiness, the more he already chases it away. To understand this, we only need to overcome the prejudice that man is basically out to be happy; what he really wants is to have a reason to be happy. And once he has a reason for it, the feeling of happiness sets in by itself. On the other hand, to the extent that he aims directly at the feeling of happiness, he loses sight of the reason he may have for it, and the feeling of happiness itself collapses. In other words, happiness must be er-sequent and cannot be er-achieved."
Before something changes, the story we tell ourselves about it changes. In the case of our so-called success stories, this should happen urgently. Because, if we continue to recognize the happy ending of our success stories only by what we have accumulated, we will be starved and hollowed out sooner than we even realize it ourselves.
If you want to rewrite your success story for yourself, in your job, in the foundation or management of your company, your team or your brand, i.e. if you want to find a story that is supported by a task, then I will be happy to accompany you as a mentor. Together we turn your signpost in the right direction. I have two offers for this:
- The "PowerHour " - my powerful short mentoring with immediate effect. You can find all information and booking options here.
- The "New Story Mentoring", a structured one-on-one program over about three months. There are currently two exclusive spots available here again, and - as it says - "the first shall be first!" If this is something for you, please reply to this newsletter right away.
The special extra built into all this New Story effort is that not only does your life improve in the process, but as a collateral benefit, so does everything else. In fact, this new story, the New Story, is about you and about all of us, telling of the harmony in connectedness of opposites in a better future where we inspire each other rather than fight. In a future where we want to live and want our children and grandchildren to live. A future of enabling instead of today's present of hindering. A future of listening, of tuning in, of cooperation, of mutual support, of understanding, of heart building. In this future, we no longer have to try in vain to fill the vacuum of meaning in ourselves, in our companies and in our society through consumption and through material growth, that is, through the exploitation of resources. In this future, we go in and out of each other, but never out of each other. That would be a happy ending and thus a real beginning.
When it comes to success stories, probably no one - besides Oscar Wilde and Viktor Frankl - can speak better than my grandmother, the old story dudette, and as an outsider. After all, success was never important to her, but rather that her gaggle of regal grandchildren truly understand one thing: "New Story. New Glory."