​Authentic Business Success: Prioritize Your Inner Life

“Tell me about your goals.”

“Well, I want a business beyond my wildest dreams. Doesn’t everyone?!”

In her voice, there’s a slight tinge of desperation… an unspoken, “I refuse to be happy until I arrive.”

I had that same type of energy when I started my business in 2009. Easily influenced by my business mentors, I became uber-focused on external success. Becoming a millionaire, building a guru online presence, etc. 

Eventually, I burned out. I came to realize that prioritizing the externals often erodes the internals, and leads to constant grasping, lack of fulfillment, physical stress, etc. A breathless chasing after external validation.

Today, I wish to be average in external metrics, yet lead from the inner qualities.

In an industry of business coaches and marketing experts who all clamor for seven-figure incomes and million-follower fame, I focus on three different things now…

  1. To become ever more skillful at my craft.

I work consistently to grow my abilities to teach and coach, as well as improve my subject-matter expertise of building an authentic business, which include:

The more skillful I become in these areas, the more my clients and students benefit.

The more they benefit, the more fulfilled I feel.

Word-of-mouth spreads, resulting in even more inspiration to improve my craft.

It is a virtuous cycle that helps everyone.

Compare this to my previous set of priorities:

Focusing on money and audience growth creates a vicious cycle of always wanting more in the external metrics, and always chasing, yet never quite accessing a consistent fulfillment in one’s work.

Fixation on external ambitions tends to cause desperation, manipulation, disappointment, and worst of all, a disconnection from one’s internal source of joy.

Flaunting our success (the usual way influencers market themselves) can also evoke envy in others, and hubris within ourselves.

The fact is, the more material things you have (or the more attention you get), the less there is for others. This is not a “limiting belief” but a physical law – the conservation of energy.

Therefore, I try to have enough money, enough attention, rather than always “more”.

On the other hand, there is something else that is truly limitless: internal ambitions and “success” in the inner qualities. This inspires others, and brings benefit to all who are touched by your life.

  1. To grow in the inner qualities.

It’s not just about making money or even making an impact. I see work itself as a stage for personal development.

Every moment, whether I am writing a post like this, or taking care of administrative duties, or talking with a client, all of it is an opportunity to practice virtues such as:

  • Awareness
  • Blessing
  • Compassion
  • (I’ve written a series about my “spiritual alphabet” on the Soul Gym FB Page)

As often as I can, I “breathe” one of these virtues into my activities each day. 

If I ever find myself thinking, “I just have to get this done,” I realize I have lost touch with the higher purpose of that activity.

It’s never just about "getting something done”, even if I am doing something as mundane as cleaning the toilet. It is an opportunity given to me by life to practice mindfulness, being mindful of the inner qualities that can be developed (or eroded) in that very moment.

By focusing on the higher purpose of work, I find a deeper fulfillment in anything I do.

  1. To improve my balance.

As my business evolves, so does my schedule.

It is always a work in progress, finding a good balance in work, rest, and hobbies.

In work, I seek higher purpose.

In rest, I renew myself for further work.

In hobbies, I stretch my creativity in new directions.

These three core areas are important to many of us. (If you have family to take care of, various duties can fit into the above categories, sometimes work, sometimes rest, sometimes hobbies, and some can be done together as a family.)

Without working on your balance, these can happen:

  • Burnout (too much work)
  • Financial stress (not enough value-creating-work)
  • Lack of fulfillment (not enough hobbies or purpose-awareness in work)

Life is always giving us new challenges to balance these spheres. 

To recap, the top three priorities in my business are:

  • To become more skillful at my craft.
  • To grow in the inner qualities.
  • To improve my balance between work, rest, and hobbies.

They are often unmeasurable, not the kind of KPI’s (key performance indicators) that most entrepreneurs measure.

In the external (and enviable) ways—income and attention—I wish to be average. However, as a business coach, I work to pull up everyone else around me in these outer metrics, helping them attain a sustainable income. However, I also wish to inspire them with a desire to grow in the inner qualities as well.

May you match your own priorities with what truly, deeply fulfills you.