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The secret to lasting success

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers

You may think of leaders as achieving incredible success in their careers, but true leadership is actually like a kaleidoscope of brilliant pieces reflecting a dynamic, balanced life.

At work and in life, just when we’ve nailed one goal, we feel pressed to work harder for more money, more status, more toys, more bling. Our standards constantly intensify.

At the same time, traditional career paths have vanished as professionals found themselves overworked and undersatisfied in the boom, then overworked and vulnerable in the bust.

The cure? Enduring success, or a balance of “just enough” achievement in four areas: happiness, achievement, significance and legacy. Enduring success means achieving sustainable rewards for yourself and the people you care about. This kind of success gives you a sense of importance beyond the thrill of the moment.

Here’s how to build your own “kaleidoscope”:

Draw four big intersecting circles on a piece of paper. Label them “happiness” (pleasure or contentment), “achievement” (accomplishments), “significance” (helping people) and “legacy” (values or accomplishments that will last).

In each circle, list “self,” “family,” “work” and “community.” Then quickly jot down your successes or great satisfactions. You don’t need one for every line;  work quickly, on impulse.

Now, hold up your kaleidoscope to the light. How balanced and varied is it? How does it reflect what you really want?

Take away one of those four components, and you’ll no longer feel real success. The people in a Harvard study who were particularly good at picking their targets saw success as broad and constantly in motion. They also counted as “real” success accomplishments of wildly varying magnitude. They didn’t set maximum goals in each category, but stayed within a scale of “just enough.”

“Just enough” doesn’t mean mediocrity, passivity or boredom. “Just enough” is the cure for an addiction to the never-ending “more.”

— Adapted from “Success That Lasts,” Laura Nash and Howard Stevenson, Harvard Business Review.

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