Is it possible to be successful in business and unfulfilled?
To serial entrepreneur Brian Gast, the answer is a resounding yes. His view, and one that I share, is that the process of needing to adapt to the long-standing business culture where success is only measured in the money you make for yourself and your business can be jarring for young, idealistic entrepreneurs.
For those, say, interested in making the world a better place and/or enjoying a leisurely lifestyle with friends and family, the knowledge that success is often measured by financial impact can be frustrating -- and not the least fulfilling.
To this end, Gast in his book The Business of Wanting More outlines how to ensure that your career in entrepreneurship can be both successful and fulfilling. His perspective is from later in his career, so Ive re-arranged these a bit for those of you at an earlier stage:
1. Create a vision for your life. Simply envision yourself enjoying the fruits of your dreams, goals and principles. Write down the what of your vision, but let go of how it will be achieved, as you cant control the precise manner, form or timing. Of course, maintain some reality by listing vulnerabilities, risks and costs for realizing your vision.
2. Draw a roadmap to the future you want. If you have no strategic plan, your emotions and opportunities of the moment, or someone else, will drive your decisions and actions. A truly fulfilled life means meeting the four core needs: acceptance, connection, purpose and service. Its vital to have a specific plan for meeting those needs.
3. Take a fearless inventory of your life now. Fulfillment is a choice. After honestly assessing whats working and not working now in your life, you have to take personal responsibility for all of it before you can empower yourself to effect change. Dont wait for a personal crisis to highlight gaps.
4. Burst your bubble. Your bubble is a lens through which you unconsciously interpret every experience, set by your background, family and long-standing beliefs. It limits your view of opportunities and actions in yourself and in others. To the degree that its inconsistent with your vision, you need to burst the bubble to act and think outside of your pre-set boundaries.
5. Build your support team. Go-it-alone leaders are common in startups, but they often crash if they dont build effective support along the way. Gast defines an effective so-called Court of Support as one professional coach, one accountability partner, one mentor and six to nine group members. Look for a mix of talent and balance in your support team.
6. Methodically remove the barriers to fulfillment. Develop your inner CEO to make decisions informed by all areas of your life -- not just your career and finances, but also your relationships, core needs and the needs of others. Beware your shadow, or the risk-averse side of your being, which can cause you to overreact and behave in ways not conducive to fulfillment.
7. Create a positive personal practices regimen. Being fulfilled and staying fulfilled, takes work. It takes a personal regimen to create and sustain a life fortified against the distractions of a culture that relentlessly promotes material success. Focus on practices that help you stay open and have faith, but dont force it. Dont be afraid to take test drives.
Following these steps early and always in your career will allow you to be the entrepreneur you want to be with a whole-life view. You will be able to tap unused skills, create better ways to respond to high-stress situations, while still generating more powerful results. Most importantly, you will be able to stay on the road to fulfillment, as well as success.
How do you balance success with fulfillment? Leave a comment and let us know.
The author is an Entrepreneur contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.