DR JOHN DEMARTINI - Updated 9 months ago
Donald Keough, the former president of Coca-Cola who led the company through one of its most successful eras and who Fortune magazine once referred to as the most powerful non-CEO in recent history, once said something that has stayed with me ever since…
“I have always been afraid of the word success. People, companies, and countries can get into trouble when they start to think they are successful. They get arrogant.”
You may have also heard the old saying: pride comes before a fall. What you may not yet know is the WHY:
- WHY does your perception of success likely result in you being humbled by others?
- WHY does your perception of failure often result in others building you up?
- And, WHAT you can do to continually center and balance yourself so that you are authentic, purposeful, living by priority, and mission-focused instead of recognition-focused?
Anytime you perceive yourself as being successful, you tend to de-purpose and allow yourself to perform lower priority tasks.
When you perceive yourself as being successful, you tend to feel pride. Pride is an exaggeration of self –and not your authentic self where you are intrinsically inspired to excel and grow - but an exaggerated self.
As a result, you tend to stop doing the things that helped you achieve your goals, and instead allow yourself to DE-PURPOSE and spend time on lower priority tasks, splurge and overspend, or take long vacations.
On the other side of the equation, if you think you have failed or are going backwards, instead of de-purposing, it can REPURPOSE you. It can inspire you to stop, re-establish your highest priorities, and focus on spending your days living congruently with your highest priorities. It can be very humbling feedback that helps to re-purpose, re-center and re-balance you.
I like to tell the story of when I was in practice around 40 years ago. On certain days when I had seen lots of patients and earned a really lovely income for that day, I would tend to get a little puffed up and perceive that I was someone special. I then began to notice that on those days, when I got home, my wife at that time would inevitably humble me!
I was pretty naïve in my 20s in relation to my marriage and began thinking that she might be a toxic partner who would frequently criticize me and bring me down. I didn’t realize that her role of being critical and challenging at that particular time was not toxicity but instead a caring response to get me back into equilibrium.
I also began to notice how, on other occasions when I was feeling low and deflated; she would somehow lift me up and support me to help bring me back up into balance.
I'm a firm believer that your physiology, your psychology, your loved ones, friends, colleagues and society at large, are all helping you become the most authentic versions of yourself.
- When you inflate yourself up and perceive that you’re successful, you're not being authentic.
- When you deflate yourself and perceive that you’re failing, you’re not being authentic.
However, when you’re on a mission instead of chasing success, and neither exaggerating nor minimizing yourself and instead being appreciative of the opportunity to be of service, you center yourself and are more likely to become truly authentic.
If you challenge someone’s highest values and you’re proud and cocky, they're designed to bring you back down into equilibrium because you're puffed up (above equilibrium).
And if you're down and feeling like a failure, they’re designed to be supportive and to lift you up, to get you back up into equilibrium.
Everything that's going on in your life is trying to get you to be authentic and in equilibrium.
Once I realized what was happening in my life, and the role that others played, I began looking at ways I could center myself instead of relying on the outside world to do so. I was inspired to govern and master my own life so I could be run from within instead of allowing the outside world to run me.
So, at the end of each day, if I noticed that I was a little puffed up and exaggerating myself, I began asking quality questions to bring balance to my perceptions.
Questions such as, what didn’t I accomplish today, what members of my team did I not thank, what patients did I not connect with, and what procedure did I overlook? The result was that I calmed my pride and assumed success down.
When I completed that little exercise before going home, I noticed that my wife behaved completely different – she was more stable because I had stabilized myself.`
I began doing the opposite on days where I minimized myself and was down on myself for some reason. I would then ask myself different questions but with the same aim of bringing balance to my perceptions. Questions such as, who did I serve today and who did I uplift today? The same thing would happen – I would center myself, and head home to a wife who didn’t have to lift me up because I was already in a state of balance.
This was a massive leap forward in my journey to self-mastery. My practice and my relationships became more stable and productive.
If you don't govern yourself, the world around you will do it for you.
If you don't listen to your physiology and psychology and self-govern, you're most likely to end up having sociology and theology and family dynamics govern you. So, if you're cocky, they're likely to bring you down. If you're humble, they're likely to lift you up to try to get you back into authenticity.
In my case, I realized that if I was addicted to praise at work, I'd get slammed at home. However, if I was neutral, didn't puff myself up and didn't get addicted to praise, I had a more loving dynamic at home. My wife played out the role of what I was not willing to embrace at work.
The addiction to pride and the subdiction from shame, which is an amygdala response in most human beings, is a survival response, avoiding predator, seeking prey, avoiding shame and seeking pride.
This is not where maximum performance occurs. In fact, it's been shown that maximum performance and maximum achievements occur at the border of support and challenge, the border of the pride and shame, the authentic self, which sits in the center.
It’s why I'd rather call myself a man on a mission and not label myself as being successful or a failure. I also don’t label parts of my life as success or failure and instead look at them as feedback – feedback to bring me back to being centered and authentic if I am puffed up or humbled.
I'm not here to promote the idea of success. I'm here to promote the idea of an individual on a mission, living by highest priority where you're more objective, more neutral, more resilient, and more adaptable.
If you perceive that you are successful, you can become addicted to it and fear its loss. Many people get depressed when they've been successful and on the resulting high from it, and now can't get it again. They fear the loss of it and perceive they are a failure, because they're addicted to success. As the Buddha says, the desire for that which is unavailable, and the desire to avoid that which is unavoidable, the success and failure illusion, is the source of human suffering.
So, I'm not interested in promoting a one-sided world. I'm not interested in telling you to always be optimistic, positive, peaceful, and one-sided. Frankly, it's not real, and it's not sustainable. It’s a fantasy.
The majority of your failure sensations are due to fantasies of success that did not come true. I’ve had so many people tell me about their “failed” marriage, to which I reply, did you learn something from it? Are you now ready to learn from that and take that learning into your next relationship? So, why do you feel the need to label it as being a failure?
You likely want to be loved for who you are, but you're not who you are if you're proud and cocky, and you’re not who you are when you're shamed and minimizing yourself.
So the idea of success and failure are labels. They're signs of incomplete awareness about human behavior, as far as I'm concerned.
In the Breakthrough Experience program, that I’ve been doing for over 3 decades now, I teach you how to dissolve the distractions of those two states, the idea of success and failure, because it is wiser to be inspired and focused on your mission.
In my case, my mission is to keep educating myself and learning everything I can that can help people do something extraordinary with their lives, and keep refining, organizing, and disseminating that knowledge in every possible vehicle.
Other people’s labels mean very little. Other people's opinion of you is not a true measure of your so-called successes or failures. They’re simply feedback.
If you're sitting there worried about what other people think about you, you're likely distracted. Instead of comparing yourself to other people, it is wise to compare your actions to what's highest on your values.
That's why, in the Breakthrough Experience, I also help you identify what it is that's really highest on your values. When you live according to your highest values, live congruently with what's most important, and prioritize your daily life and fill it with high priority actions, you are most likely to become more objective, resilient, adaptable, neutral in your perception of yourself, and less likely to think that you're a success or a failure.
When you join me at the Breakthrough Experience I’ll also show you how to stop letting the more primitive part of your brain, the amygdala, run your life with emotional fight-or-flight reactive responses and decisions, and to instead activate the more advanced executive center of your brain so you can be more proactive, centered, objective, balanced, neutral, and more likely to focus on your mission instead of labels of success and failure. That’s where the magic of greater fulfillment happens!
To Sum Up:
- Anytime you perceive yourself as being successful, you tend to de-purpose and allow yourself to perform lower priority tasks.
- When you’re on a mission instead of chasing success, and neither exaggerating nor minimizing yourself and instead being appreciative of the opportunity to be of service, you center yourself and you’re more likely to become truly authentic.
- If you don't govern yourself, the world around you will do it for you.
- Everything that's going on in your life is trying to get you to be authentic, centered and in equilibrium.
- I'm not here to promote the idea of success. I'm here to promote the idea of an individual on a mission, living by highest priority where you're more objective, more neutral, more resilient, and more adaptable.
- You likely want to be loved for who you are, but you're not who you are if you're proud and cocky, and you’re not who you are when you're shamed and minimizing yourself.
- I’d prefer to be labeled a man on a mission who is dedicated to being of service to people instead of a man who is labeled as being successful.
- It is wise to let go of the idea that you're successful and instead be grateful for what you're achieving, the opportunity to do it, and the opportunity to serve sustainably and be fairly rewarded.
- A valuable question to keep asking yourself is: How can I be of ever greater service to others with what am I doing to make that happen?
- In the Breakthrough Experience, I will help you identify your highest values, mission and purpose in life. So instead of being focused on perceptions of success or failure, you can live each day with clarity around your mission and the highest priority steps you can take each day to help you fulfill your mission.
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