The Void of Success

To achieve is not necessarily to be fulfilled, but to be fulfilled is certainly an achievement.
— Alison Pothier

“What happens next?”

What happens when we finally arrive at the top of our mountain having spent a lifetime climbing to reach the summit? 

What happens when we actually achieve all that we have set out to achieve, attain all that we aspired to attain, and have all that we ever wished to have?  What happens when, in the very same moment that we realise our success, we find ourselves asking the question, “Is this it?”

To some, it would seem a luxurious sentiment reserved for the materially affluent who are no longer able to find anything satisfying in life, but I would suggest otherwise.  Sometimes it is not until we satisfy all other hungers that we are able to truly grasp what it really means to feel fulfilled inside.

Despite all of our successes, accolades, titles, and achievements, many of us wake one morning, stare into the mirror, and ask ourselves how it is possible that we still feel a void and emptiness inside.  It is then that we stare a little longer, look a little deeper, and take a much closer look at our definition of success.  When we are still hungry no matter how materially or experientially satiated we are, our focus begins to shift from ‘achievement’ to ‘fulfillment’.  In that moment we begin a new climb on a journey with self-actualisation.

‘Achievement’ is often measured by the world outside of us, but ‘fulfillment’ is measured by the world within us.  Therefore the road to self-actualisation (being our true and authentic self in this world) is an internal one.

In my experience as a mentor and personal advisor to ultra successful individuals, professionals, and entrepreneurs, the question ‘Is this it?’ is often the catalyst for an incredible shift in the way we approach our lives, our investments, our families, and our future.

Once asked, the question inevitably launches another, “What happens next?” Faced with the sudden realisation that we may need to point our compass in a new direction, we wonder where to begin and how to access the void inside so we can understand what it is trying to tell us.

We suddenly realise we have lived in a world that has defined ‘success’ for us to such an extent that many of us have lost touch with our own personal definition of self, success and fulfillment.

To reconnect with this part of us requires the courage to stop climbing for just a moment, reconnect with who we are and what inspires us most, and take time to challenge our perspective on whether and why our current circumstances prevent us from being who we truly are in the world.  

What is it that stifles our freedom to be ourselves? What do we fear will happen to us if we are?

Fulfilment requires a deeply personal connection with a sense of self and purpose in all that we do.   To achieve it requires a process rather than a moment.  A commitment to engage with life differently by opening to the possibility that what we are being in our life matters to us as much as what we attain.

When my clients go through this process, they begin by remembering their true sense of identity, reflecting on their definition of purpose, and reconnecting with all that has meaning in the simplicity of their lives.  They then work on weaving the essence of these into the fabric of their world.

Self-actualisation is about adding a sense of identity, meaning and inspiration to the life we are already leading.  It should be a process of integration with rather than sabotage to our existing status, position, family or experience.

Aligning “who we are being” with “what we are doing” makes the doing more authentic and sustainable while paving the path for our true legacy contributions.

If our investments truly matter to us, they will not only feed our hunger and fill the void within us, but they will be a reflection of who we are.

This is what legacy truly means.