episode #51: success and significance (how to have it now instead of waiting for "someday")

Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life--think of it, dream of it, live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success. Swami Vivekananda

One of the things I learned really quickly after moving out to SoCal, was that there are a lot of people pretending to be successful; pretending to be something that they aren't. Especially in LA. 

I remember when I first moved out here 5 years ago. Back then I was still trying to figure out a lot of things about my life and my career ambitions and really just trying to find myself.. And one of the things I was doing for work at that particular stage in my life, was modeling (which, by the way, turned out to be a very unsuccessful career path for me; lol.)

... But one of the cool things about being a "model" was that my agent would introduce me to all sorts of people and invite me to all sorts parties in and around LA and Hollywood. One of these nights, I remember attending a house party at this beautiful mansion in Beverly Hills... Oh, and just so you know -- before this, my idea of a house party was limited to keg stands and preparing apple pie shooters with my fraternity brothers -- so this whole Beverly Hills thing was pretty new to me. 

And I realized very quickly that it wasn't any classier than your typical college frat party. 

In fact, it was worse. 

Wearing my naiveness on my sleeves --I thought I was stepping into a gathering filled with Hollywood's elite... But what I realized was that what I was actually stepping into was nothing more than a gathering of people who all wanted the same thing: success and significance...

what prevents people from being happy?

In retrospect, I realized that the problem here, wasn’t that they wanted success and significance — we all want that… the problem, was that they were going about it all in a really stupid way. The people who wanted it looked desperate. The people who thought they'd achieved it looked like they had something to hide.

And indeed they did. 

Not all of them, of course, but most the people at that party wreaked of neediness and shallowness and entitlement -- all nearly covered and bundled up with temporary joy that came in the form of nice clothes, fake smiles, black bentleys, boob jobs, and incredibly high doses of cocaine. 

Obviously, this is a great way to provide ourselves with short term thrill rides disguised as happiness -- which, as you surely know -- come at the expense of our long-term happiness and fulfillment. 

Needless to say, I stopped attending these Hollywood shindigs shortly thereafter. 

It was all sort of like when you step outside expecting to take in a deep breath of fresh air, but instead smell the wet stink of a garbage can behind you. This was NOT my scene. 

so… how do we achieve real success and significance?

Now, if you’re wondering “what the heck does this have to do with my success?” 

… it’s got everything to do with success.

The thing I learned that night at that party, was that so many of us — especially people in the greater LA area — try to achieve success and significance in all the wrong ways… material things, drugs, booze, bling bling, etc etc — this stuff might feel good in the short-term, and I think that some of them are totally fine in moderation — but most of the things we think will make us feel successful and happy in life just don’t do it for us. 

They’re like short-term bandaids for long-term problems. 

the solution? find something you can dedicate yourself to in the long-term. 

Dedicate yourself to figure out an area of life that you can develop what’s known as Mastery within. To do this, you’ve gotta get up and try stuff. Try different things. See what works for you. See what doesn’t work for you. Learn from it. Feel it out… but just TRY something.Try lots of somethings… eventually, after falling and failing and forgiving yourself for it — one day you stumble on something that sticks. Something that lights you on fire. Something you want to dedicate yourself to in the long-term. 

The thing you’re looking for here, is that something stumble on that feels like it could potentially be more than another one of those somethings… in might be some-thing you might eventually turn into your-thing… and this thing of yours — should be something that taps into your talents and passions and skills and at the same time allows you to contribute and add value to the world in a way that helps you provide for yourself and your family — all the while allowing you to grow and fail and get back up to grow some more. That’s what makes us happy. The process, the pursuit, the journey of trying to achieve a goal while doing something you find fulfilling. 

For me, that comes in the form of inspiring people to live the best damn life they can.

It comes in the form of seeing people light up when they make a distinction that changes their quality of life for the better..

it comes in the form of knowing that I’m doing something everyday that actually helps people and adds value and lights me up and gets me up early in the morning and keeps me up late at night thinking about the next idea for an article, a talk, or an episode of this podcast...

This is my happiness. 

… what’s yours?


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show notes


  • success and significance
  • enjoying the journey
  • happiness and how to have it now -- not tomorrow

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