This week’s episode is all about reframing our perspective of success. We’ll be looking at two amazing books that I began reading over the recent winter break: “A Course in Miracles,” and “Peace is Every Step” by Thich Nhat Hahn. Together, I have found that they offer powerful insights for an ambitious professional who wants to have success paired with peace, freedom, and ease.
A Course in Miracles
My “aha” moment came on page 383 of “A Course in Miracles,”
“some of your greatest advances, you have judged as failures and some of your deepest retreats you have evaluated as success.”
Reading this filled me with a sense of freedom. During much of your career, you likely look back and reflect on how well you did in a job based on the accomplishments and milestones you hit in any given role. I love that A Course in Miracles is suggesting that we can reframe this for ourselves, sharing that true success, and your day to day reality, is less defined on achievements and more defined on feelings, or what is called the ‘happy dream’ in this book.
A Course in Miracles also talks about the freedom that comes from basing how you measure success based on how you feel, or want to feel. It offers us the freedom to revisit some of what we may have found to be “failures” based on traditional standards, and re-evaluate them. By using the emotional guidance scale (which we also talked about in a recent past episode), you can begin to develop career plans and milestones based on your own internal desired emotions and feelings, which frees you from striving to keep up with others.
These two ideas, of the emotional guidance scale and the quote from A Course in Miracles underscore the same idea: that it is not the outside accomplishment or the way that society deems you successful, but rather how you feel when you wake up in the morning, and how you feel about where you are in life. You’re on a path that is bigger than what you see right now and you are stepping into that every single day. We all have a desire for fulfillment, for purpose, and a need for a deeper connection to ourselves.
“Peace is Every Step” by Thich Nhat Hahn
Vietnamese Buddhist Monk and peace activist Thich Nhat Hahn is the author of a beautiful and easy to read book: “Peace is Every Step.” On page 79, he shares about understanding and love in a way that really caught my attention, and helped me look at self-awareness differently.
Thich Nhat Hahn says understanding and love are not two things, but instead, they are one and the same. Reading this helped me see that self-awareness is understanding, and understanding is love, and therefore, self-awareness is love, too. Imagine having such love and acceptance for yourself that you can be completely self-aware. Imagine having so much compassion for another person that you can understand them, and be completely aware of them, and respectful of who they are. This kind of deep understanding and compassion opens your heart to universally loving others, and can shift how you approach people and situations.
I find that this insight is extremely applicable for your professional life. Think about every meeting, every difficult conversation, every person you manage, every time you talk to your boss. What could be possible if you approached each of these with a sense of understanding? What if your only goal for conversations was to reach a deeper understanding of where someone is coming from, to understand their pain points, to understand their needs?
If you desire to reach understanding in any situation, the whole world opens up for you. There is such power in this self-awareness and understanding: you become powerful in the sense that when you understand someone else’s motivations and who they are, you can then act from the smartest place. You look for similarities and ways to move forward together.
Peace is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hahn