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What is Success?


Cristina M. Gallegos By on February 19, 2017

Success is being happy. Success is your endeavors being fruitful. The dictionary says “Honors”. It is growing and fulfilling dimensions in 20 categories…

Whatever that is for you in metrics (the title after your name, the car you drive, having a yacht, travels, etc.) freedom should be on that list, in all or most of its forms.

A huge part of freedom is making sure that money is not impeding how much freedom you actually have: you are not successful until you have the freedom to take a nap when you are exhausted. Until you have the freedom to do the work you do with the resources you need. Until you are free from worries about the roof over your head and the food on your plate (or more specifically, how it got there). Until you feel confident that your responsibilities are achievable because you have built a machine that feeds the success.

You hear people talking about other people “He is a very successful artist. She is a very successful blogger. They are very successful professionals”. I am always excited for these people and I sincerely hope their success is on par with their bank account AND the bank account of the business they run. If you are rebuking my statement with a mental “Of course it is!” I am here to tell you that it seldom does, particularly in this day.

Having 300K followers on Twitter does not automatically mean being free from worries about paying the mortgage (assuming the person even has a mortgage) because monetizing popularity is a tricky thing. There are startups valuated at $800 mil that are yet to make a penny – and their co-founders say: “Not yet, but soon!” That is messed up. That is unsustainable, and possibly, insane.

There are people that have won Academy Awards and are full “Past Due” bills up to their eyeballs. There are people that are quoted periodically in the LA Times and the New York Times and can’t afford a trip to the State Fair, much less a yacht. There are people that are a burden on their family while being perceived “successful” by the world. I call them “perceived-successful”. That is not real success. That is skill mastery. You can be masterful at what you do and that doesn’t make you successful.

Sadly, most perceived-successful people struggle financially because there is no correlation between public success and financial freedom. I am going to say that again: there is no correlation between public success and financial freedom.

Why am I saying this? Because a lot of startups focus on getting media followers, getting good press, etc. That is all GOOD – I am not saying it isn’t. If it fits organically with the work and it does not take time away (?) from the core things you need to do, go for it. But never sacrifice a) the work and b) the effort of acquiring the resources you need to do the work, than you are spending time on the wrong things.

And if people tell you “do this and then money will come”, I say: “make sure ‘this’ includes getting your resource pipeline in order.” 

Money first.

Money is freedom. Money is the freedom to do the work you want to do. You need to focus on carving the slice of freedom you envision. THAT is SUCCESS. The proof is in the bank. Not in the pudding, in the bank. Show me a person who says money is not important and I will show you a person who has no money. Money is the blood of the nonprofit field. Without blood there is no life.

And not to belabor the obvious, success means money which means freedom, which brings more money, and more freedom and more success, and so on and so on. This means time to devote to your well-being, your health, your talents, your spirituality, to the people you love in your life, to the community, to everything and anything that is meaningful and worth valuing.

Define your success today – pen on paper, every day, twice a day if you can (morning and night). And then discard your fears, go get the money to arrive there, and STAY FREE. That is mission critical.

I believe in you, and I believe in your sacred duty to be free and prosperous.

Go make some money today.


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