When I was a child, my parents led me to believe that success looked like learning my times tables, following the rules, and being polite to strangers.
When I was a teenager, success looked like making straight A’s, steering clear of cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs, and guarding my virginity until I got married.
When I was a medical student and resident, my professors led me to believe that success looked like showing up early, staying late, sacrificing my personal needs for the needs of my patients, coming to work when I was sick, prioritizing my work over my family or friends, overdelivering, curing patients without ever screwing up, and helping out my fellow residents, even if it was long past when I wanted to go home.
When I was a practicing physician, my colleagues led me to believe that success looked like a schedule full of patients, 72 hour call shifts during which I worked my ass off without ever making mistakes, efficiency in the exam room so I could blow through 40 patients a day, billing enough to bring in my fair share of revenue, perfection in the operating room, the adoration of my patients, a six figure income and a house with an ocean view, and being voted among San Diego’s Top Doctors.
When I was forging ahead in my art career, people led me to believe that success looked like being represented by many galleries, getting my art shown in museums, big ticket art sales, and name recognition for my work.
Now I work in an industry where there’s no limit to the amount of external success you can achieve - books, blogs, online programs, public speaking, conferences, magazine articles, television talk shows - the big leagues.
In the past, I let other people define success for me. But this time around, I’m committed to doing it differently.
When I first met women’s financial guru Barbara Stanny, author of Overcoming Underearning and Secrets of Six-Figure Women, she was in the process of researching her next book Sacred Success. As part of the research for this book, she was interviewing 7-figure women, researching whether there were any common trends the rest of us might learn from. What Barbara found is that women who make more than a million dollars have very similar life trajectories that got them from A to B.
The Life Cycle of Seven-Figure Women
When the life cycle begins, the woman is going about her business, living her ordinary life, doing her ho hum thing and usually not earning seven figures. Then something happens. She gets thrust into the life cycle, and a very predictable series of steps ensues. I’m paraphrasing what Barbara told me when we chatted about this, so I’ll use my own words, but in essence, this is her juice. (Hint: Barbara’s work is aimed at women, but I have a strong hunch that this is also the life cycle of 7-figure men!)