12/18/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Key #3 To Your Sound Financial Future

A few weeks ago I attended an event along with 550 people at Tacoma's famous Museum of Glass. Friends and strangers gathered to celebrate the success of two 40-ish young women who have made it to the vice president level of our industry. Their message could not be more poignant for our times. Heather, a Nurse Practitioner, and mother of a two year old son, and Laura, a finance/accounting executive from corporate America, and, now mother of 5 year old twins, have figured out their own freedom trail. Now, both financially free, they reflected on what shaped their success. It came down to one simple word: teamwork. Teamwork was their source of liberation.

For both, their journey to a sound financial future began with an audit. It began with the question of 'what is my why?' Why would I bother to start a business on the side of my career, when I am already so busy with work and mothering? Each required herself to reflect upon the meaning of success. In questioning and going beyond their previous definition of success, they began the process of success reinvention, which was to lead to their own liberation.

As they shared their stories, a memory came back to me. Many years ago, in a required Research and Statistics course we grad students were required to take, a professor by the name of Michael Pattison shared a way of thinking that was to change my life. He asked us to consider the following: "For those of you who are not going to quit on yourselves in this program, you'll be asked to do original research. Be assured, it will keep you up at night. What I'd like you to think about is this: given you are going to be up at 2 or 3a.m. burning the midnight oil, what could you be researching that would be worth the effort? Do not take on any subject for which you do not have the sort of passion that can keep you going even when you want to go to bed." Based on results, Heather and Laura have found their passion. But even passion is not enough. They have found a way to partner one another's passion and definition of success.

What does success mean for you? We cannot build a sound financial future without updating the answer to this question for ourselves. Over the past 40 years professionally, I've asked literally hundreds of thousands of people from many countries this question. Regardless the variance in their language, the core anatomy to their answer was this. 'Success means having the ability to get up in the morning and have the freedom to live my day in accord with my heart's desire.' For most, this involves the time and space to cultivate more expansive relationship with well-being, loved ones. Nearly everyone speaks of their desire to make a contribution that resonates with their heart's desire, and incorporates their most natural gifts.

Success Quotient. Rate yourself between 0-10 in terms of your definition of success. What do you need to do to shift to a higher number, if you rated yourself as less than 10? What story have you been telling yourself about yourself that needs to shift? Where do you need to build partnerships?

Let's say you rated your Success Quotient as a '6.' You recognize you have insufficient resources and time to relax and enjoy the necessary stillness and space in order to fan the flames of connecting more deeply with your heart's desire and then do something about it.

At the event I mentioned, a guest and good friend of mine was brave enough to admit to herself, and me that she's been operating in too small a box. Now, this is pretty amazing when you consider that after raising 4 children in a devoted loving way, only to return to school, and then grad school in her mid-50's, and just passed her boards to become a Nurse Practitioner, she confessed the following: "Listening to these speakers, I'm seeing that I need to have a bigger vision to serve more people. I've never seen it this way before. I've been telling myself a story that is too small." Talk about courage! Her words gave me an opportunity to ask myself the same question. How about you? What story have you been telling yourself about you and your current level of success financially, emotionally, mentally, socially, and spiritually? What challenge are you willing to take on?

Let's use this as a forum. Consider writing in your own definition of success, the story you've been telling yourself that limits you most, and what challenge you are willing to take on. How about partnering with other readers, too?

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