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August 4, 2022

What Are You Going To Call Success?

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As a leadership team Diana, Erica and I have spent a great deal of time talking about what we are going to define as success for the Conscious Leadership Group. I find these conversations clarifying and inspiring. As we make the many decisions required to run a flourishing business this definition of success, along with clarity of purpose, provides the framework for daily decision making. 

I suggest that you, as a conscious leader, would be served by devoting to clarifying and committing to what you're calling success, both individually and in your organization. The key to this conversation, whether it be internally or with your team, is to tell yourself the truth, no bullshit. Don’t let yourself get by with claiming that success is one thing when in reality it’s not what you’re truly prioritizing.

For us, we have determined that success is a three legged stool made up of impact, delight and profitability. 

We have spent time clarifying what we mean by each of these. Impact is transformation of individuals and organizations. At the individual level we see impact as reducing (and even eliminating) suffering. Or put another way: supporting individual leaders to be fully alive. For teams and organizations we define impact as reducing drama. Drama is a wonderful catch all for the sludge that keeps teams from doing their best work and fulfilling their purpose.

Delight for us means taking life (especially our ego-centric little life) less seriously, being more playful, living and working more in our zones of genius, and practicing love in all that we do. 

Profitability is the last leg of the stool. Not last in priority but the last one we committed to. For years we didn’t make any money with CLG. In fact, we lost money. We didn't lose money like many startups do with a view to losing money for now in order to make money later. We lost money because profitability wasn’t a priority. We simply wanted to have impact and fun. We were caught in the tension among being a for profit business, a not for profit, or a movement. We often wondered how money aligned with teaching the principles of consciousness. 

It took time, but we came to the conclusion that our relationship with money was a blind spot. We did our deep work in consciousness to clean up beliefs we had about money and to get aligned. Once we did, the three of us added profitability to our definition of success. The last line of our Playbook  (which is where we describe and define success) says, 

We do all of this while easefully having more than enough money to do everything we want to do. 

This defines our commitment to profitability. Many leaders and businesses would consider this an inadequate definition of profitability. We understand why, but this definition not only works for us, but is incredibly clarifying. It invites us to ask questions like, “What do we really want to do?” “What is life asking us to do?” “What is more than enough?” “Are we making money easefully?” Or are we struggling, suffering, exhausting ourselves and others?

In the last era of our business, Erica, in her role as CEO, has built a great team and together they have brought financial rigor to what it is that we’re doing. This leg of the tripod is strong, stable and equal to the other two legs. 

Knowing what success looks like allows us to live in a dynamic tension with every decision we make. It invites us to ask the question, “Are all three legs being valued?” It invites us, like your definition of success will to you, to tell ourselves the truth. To face fully whether we are aligned in reality with what we call success. 

Many of our clients are telling us that they have to make difficult decisions based on current economic realities. This makes sense. We’re inviting each of them to revisit their definition of success, tell themselves and each other the truth and make decisions accordingly. 

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