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Is Success Overrated?

The aroma of freshly baked bread filled the air in the pastry shop and was complemented with the Colombian hazelnut flavored coffee bean smell that tickled your nose with sweet sensations. The fireplace provided a warm and soothing spot to sink into a leather chair, read a book, and savor a specialty drink. This place was heavenly bliss.

I became absorbed in people watching, noticing people driving by in fancy cars, others dressed to the nines, some with expensive watches, and yet others seemingly like me, just normal folks with no bling but all smiles.

Somehow I just wasn’t intrigued by all the fanciful things these people had. To me they projected an air of fakeness. I began to wonder if they were happy with all these material things. Likely they were, but how happy would they be if they suddenly lost all these material possessions. Would they be happy then? I doubted it. Then how real is happiness and success in these material things? They bring about only a false sense of success, one that can quickly erode. It erodes because we think that it makes us significant. We want to be something so we tend to define ourselves with the material things around us instead of things that are meaningful. So, when we lose these possessions or these things are not as fanciful as other people’s possessions we direct more energy to acquire bigger and better things.

Our culture over-promotes success. It seems that everything has to be related to success. But, success is simply a favorable result. Those who are brave define what success is within real and meaningful things. I’d forgo a new fancy car for the chance to sit more often in a café like this. At least this experience of pleasure fills me with more success as a human being than a fancy car that’ll be outdated in a year or two.

Experiences bring us personal fulfillment of which no material thing can ever replace. Memories last forever. This is such a simple notion that most tend to forget as they try to placate a temporary compulsive desire through the acquisition of material things. How many outfits have you bought because you wanted to feel important or that you felt projected success? Now do you still wear them today? Likely not. You probably bought new clothes, endlessly trying to maintain this “sense” of success. Sadly, it’s a futile process. You’ll never be satisfied because material things do not project any real sense of success only a short-sighted image of success. If we focused instead on meaningful things to define our success we’d all be extremely successful and very happy with our lives. I’m successful because I have a loving family and life experiences. I have things, but they don’t define me. I define myself instead in the experiences I live and the relationships I build. This simply philosophy has allowed me to become extremely successful as a result and no material thing can ever replace it

Have you found your success?

Feel free to share your answer in the comments.

Other Time Trading Gurus


Zen and the Art of Letting Go

The sun edged over the horizon and light flakes of snow fluttered in the wind. The outdoor fire crackled and pine scented smoked permeated the air. While my family remained in their sleepy state, my dog and I were enjoying the freshness of the outside air and the solitude of the yard. It was a chance to think about what I wanted to do going forward for the year. But, before I could move forward I had to abandon things that I had been doing. I was laboring on all the sunk costs I’d invested and found it painful to move forward. I felt that by walking away from these investments in emotion, time, and money it would indicate that I was a failure. A thought I simply could not bear.

People are reluctant to walk away from the investments they’ve made typically because they cling illogically to the time or money already invested – my feelings certainly echoed this sentiment. Then I remembered that the key to resisting this phenomenon is mindfulness. Mindfulness is about being aware of your existence as it is in the moment. Some people facilitate this through meditation, others simply by closing their eyes and breathing, still others by finding a quiet spot to sit and contemplate. You can choose your way. This intense focus shuts out the noise of life around you and actually lets you think clearly. It’s not about analyzing every aspect of your decision, or to determine options. It’s simply about becoming aware of your existence, to open your mind and to free it from all the restrictions you have placed upon it.

This new found freedom permits you to recognize that sunk costs are just that. They’re investments that you’ve made that didn’t yield expected results. As they did not yield expected results, then by continuing to cling to these actions, you can only expect to receive the same unexpected results. The logical step forward then is to abandon these actions and to chart a new course. We cling unnecessarily to many failed investments in life: relationships, jobs, financial investments, and the like. If we are to truly be happy we must resist the temptation to justify past actions. Practice mindfulness and let it go!

Once you’ve embraced this self-realization, then you can leverage your new found power to set and achieve new goals in your life and to stop being afraid to change course.

Have you become more mindful?

Feel free to share your answer in the comments.

Other Time Trading Gurus


The Marco Polo Effect

The flight information scrolled across the blue screens and delays were piped through the speaker system echoing throughout the airport lounge. I was relaxed, coffee in hand, computer on my lap, and a view of idling airplanes in front of me. My flight was delayed again. The grumblings of other passengers ruminated throughout the lounge; some were incensed at such an inconvenience, others simply exhausted and subservient. I though, was unfazed. Flying in the middle of winter is never a guarantee of on-time flights, so I was prepared. Even though this trip was planned months in advance, I knew I had to be flexible or I’d never make it. I couldn’t help but wonder why these people were so upset. If they weren’t so rigid in their plans they’d adjust to the obstacles thrown at them. Life is never predicable and no path is always a straight one.

The most challenging aspect of setting goals is maintaining the path to reach them. Too many people set very rigid goals and actions. Unfortunately, this leads to failure or frustration at the first sign of set back. People become so ingrained in following the path they set for themselves that they are unable to adjust when an obstacle is in their way.

How can you overcome these challenges? Lean on the Marco Polo effect. His journeys have taught us a profound lesson, whereby the choices we make direct our actions toward our goal and we adjust our expectations about how close or far away we are in attaining the goal. The closer we get to our goal the more energized we become. We can ‘feel’ it and this feeling propels us to want to do everything we can to achieve it.

Marco Polo considered himself to be a wayfarer not an explorer and his prime motivation for discovery was simply curiosity. Not to mention that his in his quests he established new and prosperous trading routes betweenEuropeandAsia. It was his penchant for flexibility in achieving his goals that allowed him to become so successful. We can exploit flexibility by training our mind to control our perception of where we are at on the road to achieve our goals. By focusing on our perception, we can implicitly develop plain, simple, and effectively ways to overcome obstacles in our way.

Have you set your path to flexibility?

Feel free to share your answer in the comments.