What Comes First, the Chicken or the Egg?

– Do you need to succeed to feel good or feel good to succeed?

Anthony says he’s doing an outstanding job as a manager at his company. However, instead of feeling good, he’s frustrated. Anthony doesn’t feel appreciated or get the opportunity for advancement he wants and believes he deserves. 

He’s angry, ready to give up and losing confidence in his ability to create a fulfilling career that meets his financial needs.

Success and satisfaction are interconnected, but not in the way you think. Happiness does not come from getting what you want, i.e., achieving your goals. It comes from choosing the right goals. Goals that focus more on empowering rather than acquiring.

Anthony is motivated to do an outstanding job because he hopes to receive recognition and reward. That’s normal. Unfortunately, if he doesn’t get it because of factors beyond his control, he’s set himself up for misery. Eventually, he’ll slack on the job, do the minimum and become part of the fast-growing “quiet quitting” revolution.

Authentic success.
An authentically successful person chooses to focus on inner goals over external ones. If you work purely for exterior purposes such as money, power or fame, you’ll likely be disappointed and frustrated many times during your life. These rewards depend significantly on being at the right place at the right time and with the right people.

However, if you decide to reverse your thinking and define success by achieving internal goals, you’ll always have more control over your experience and how you feel.

Internal goals are ones of character. They can be qualities such as growth, trust, perseverance and leadership. These goals create more immediate satisfaction because they are within your control and are measurable by you. You get to experience the benefits whether or not anyone else recognizes them.

Interestingly, I’ve never known anyone who seriously worked on inner goals and didn’t reap the rewards of money, power or fame in some way. It turns out these external benefits are the consequence of an internal dedication to being your best.

Inside-out versus outside-in.
Authentic success is a strategy of inside-out success instead of outside-in. Here’s an example. You develop, practice and demonstrate leadership to your co-workers and boss because that’s how you want to shape yourself. As you commit to this inner goal, they begin to recognize you as a leader and consider you for leadership positions.

An outside-in strategy would be to demonstrate leadership only once you’ve received the leadership position and are paid for it. If you take this approach, that day may never come. If it does, it will be after a very long and frustrating wait if you can hang in there long enough.

Consider how different Anthony’s career might be if he worked on cultivating trust within himself. He would take more risks and speak up more often. He would worry less about how he’s perceived by others and care more about how he can add value and be effective. This inside-out strategy would undoubtedly win him more recognition than just following orders and fulfilling his job duties and description in an “outstanding” way.

What if Anthony focused on growth and perseverance? What if he took the time to develop his skills, broaden his mindset and do it consistently and without fail for the next six months? Do you think that kind of inside work might impact his co-workers and boss? You bet it would.

Even if those around him were too blind to notice, how much more enriched would Anthony be? How much more empowered would he be to find a new position with a company that would see his potential with fresh eyes?

The proof is in the research.
Defining success by inner goals is a win-win. The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology recently published “A meta-analysis of the dark side of the American dream: Evidence for the universal wellness costs of prioritizing extrinsic over intrinsic goals.” Across 105 studies that included more than 70,000 people, inner goals were more positively linked with well-being and negatively linked with ill-being.

When you define success by an inside measure, your happiness levels increase. As you strive to do everything from the best version of yourself, you feel better and more satisfied. This internal success breeds external success.

As it turns out, the quality of the egg comes first. It determines the size and power of the chicken—Hatch yourself some authentic success today with an inside-out strategy.

Never again be at the mercy of the right place, time or people for your happiness and success.

Work Your Authentic Genius.

  1. What are you frustrated about in your career and life?
  2. What external goal are you chasing or hoping to achieve to alleviate this frustration?
  3. What inner goal can you focus on for more immediate satisfaction and empowerment?

Thanks for reading. Stay authentic. It matters.
Til next week…

Jo-Aynne Von Born, Leadership/Executive Coach

Ready to Kickstart Success?

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