Living a Life you Love
by Dieter Langenecker following V. Frankl’s footsteps
“Motivation is an external, temporary high that pushes you forward. Inspiration is an internal, sustainable glow which pulls you forward.” (Thomas Leonard)
In the 1970s I attended a speech by Dr. Viktor Frankl, the psychiatrist and author of Man’s Search for Meaning who spent three years in Nazi concentration camps, when he addressed a meeting of young entrepreneurs in Vienna. He addressed the group with simply a blackboard and chalk.
Frankl drew a line on the blackboard that he labelled “failure” on one end and “success” on the other. He said that much of our lives we spent working hard to be successful.
Success is primarily defined by external measures – how much money you make, your rank in the company, and the respect accorded you by your peers. Being successful seemingly always involves being measured against others.
Frankl believed that there is a wholly separate dimension commonly left out of our thinking and planning, but one that is critical to the health and happiness of human beings. He drew a vertical line across the horizontal line and called it the depression-fulfilment line.
Fulfilment is the deeply felt sense that your life is full, whole, complete – that you have expanded to “fill up” your potential. Fulfilment, unlike success, is largely defined by internal measures, by how we feel about what we are doing or have done.
Obviously, the aim is to find yourself in quadrant I – fulfilment and success. Also, obviously we all want to avoid quadrant IV. As an example, for quadrant III – outer failure, inner fulfilment – Frankl mentioned the monks in the Himalayan Mountains. Not our culture, not to copy – as he stressed. But the sad thing, he added, is that in our culture many people are in quadrant II – outer success, but depression; and, in order to compensate for the depression, try even harder to be more “successful”; instead of working on their fulfilment.
And his conclusion – remember, this was in front of entrepreneurs, some 35 years ago: in the next century (voilà) only those companies will survive, which
offer something more to their clients than just a product; because the products, qualities, prices will become more and more similar; so why should someone buy from us and not from the competition?
offer their employees more than just a “job”, but also a place to find part of their fulfilment
You cannot find fulfilment by chasing success, by working harder, by running faster. You find it by stopping and thinking differently. By asking yourself what it is you really want. What is your life really about? If you want to thrive, you have to pursue both success and fulfilment. They are separate dimensions; each requires time and energy. Achieving one does not necessarily mean you will achieve the other.
We largely know what is required of us to be successful – hard work, perseverance, talent, and a little luck. We are less sure – as individuals and as a culture – of what is asked of us to be fulfilled. What must we do? How must we develop to have these feelings?
Because after all only people who feel good about themselves will produce extraordinary results.
About the author:
Dieter Langenecker is a Purpose Counseling and Life Mentoring.
He works with private individuals, seasoned entrepreneurs, founders and senior executives who sense that there must be more to life, and want to live a more meaningful life. Dieter serves in the PWN Mentoring Programme as a Mentor.