Being in balance for success that lasts

Aggiornamento: 28 set 2020

What we have learned from people who feel they have a successful life, not only for the objectives achieved, but for how they live their life.

A lot of research has been curried out on success, happiness and leadership. All enrich our archives by adding a piece of information; and if we read the comments on results , of course we compare them with our personal perception. There are results that confirm what we already suspected, others that surprise us by shifting our points of view regarding a part of humanity, and, sometimes, there are studies that give meaning to our thoughts and become a point of reference and a source of inspiration. A research study which had this effect on me, dates back to 2004 and was carried out by Laura Nash and Howard H. Stevenson at Harvard University. Nash and Stevenson interviewed hundreds of professionals, artists, CEOs and Nobel laureates, to find out what they have in common and what they do, to be able to say they are people who live stable life with lasting success. According to this research, findings showed a high degree of dissatisfaction and exhaustion in people’s work-based opinions for a general sample of the population in active employment, even among those with many options. However, when observing people who felt they were experiencing lasting success, it was discovered that they all had in common the habit of regularly devoting some time to four components every day:


  • pleasure

  • self realization

  • meaning

  • legacy for the community


So simple? Simple maybe yes, but not easy

We often focus on some aspects which, although important, do not represent the whole and consequently leave us with a feeling of lack, which we are unable to identify. Research on "lasting success" has had an important impact on my work and my life. These reflections have allowed me to create a connection, to look at the life system as an interconnected system which has allowed me to develop new habits, a balanced approach to achieve greater life satisfactions for myself and for others. Confronting with those results and then putting into practice what was missing was by no means easy, but it was well worth it. When I started working on the TH-HABITAT project, I thought it was necessary to design a space to facilitate the integration of this concept of "lasting success" into everyday life. Although years have gone by since that initial research, the results still make it current. Thus was born the five magazines and a non-profit area.


Why five instead of four as in the research?

Because for each of us has our own definition as to what the four areas represent and which are the interests and the activities that are part of them, and this can change over time. Navigating through many options it is easier to create our own kaleidoscope. Already just reading from the five magazines you have the possibility in a simplified way, to develop your personal path towards a balance of well-being and, I hope, lasting success.

Below is part of an article published by Nash and Stevenson on research.


"... Pursuing success is like shooting at a series of moving targets. Every time you hit one, five more pop up from another direction. Just when we’ve achieved one goal, we feel pressure to work harder to earn more money, exert more effort, possess more toys. Standards and examples of “making it” constantly shift, while a fast-paced world of technological and social change constantly poses new obstacles to overcome.


Fortunately, success doesn’t have to be seen as a one-dimensional tug-of-war between achievement and happiness. If developed in the right way, your ideals of the good life for yourself and society can become powerful—and manageable—factors of success. We studied hundreds of high achievers who realize lasting success, make a positive difference, and enjoy the process. And we learned that some of the most successful people have gotten where they are precisely because they have a greater understanding of what success is really about and the versatility to make good on their ideals. In this article, we’ll introduce a practical framework that will help you see success in these same terms. But first, a closer examination of how we arrived at this model.

We were interested in real, enduring success—where getting what you want has rewards that are sustainable for you and those you care about. This type of attainment delivers a sense of legitimacy and importance; its satisfactions endure far beyond the momentary rewards of a bonus or a new position. Lasting success is emotionally renewing, not anxiety provoking.

Unlike an equation for a successful market strategy, no one person or company can fully embody lasting success for others. Everyone (and every business) has a unique vision of real success, and that notion changes over time. A family-oriented person would hardly call the absentee life of a top executive a success but might find travel and adventure just the ticket after the kids grow up.


Complexity of success


... "Success involves more than a heart-pounding race to the finish line. Our research uncovered four irreducible components of enduring success: happiness (feelings of pleasure or contentment about your life); achievement (accomplishments that compare favorably against similar goals others have strived for); significance (the sense that you’ve made a positive impact on people you care about); and legacy (a way to establish your values or accomplishments so as to help others find future success)"...


These four categories form the basic structure of what people seek to achieve through the pursuit and enjoyment of success. Remove even one of the components and it no longer seems like a "real" success. If you were wildly rich thanks to your business, but you couldn't enjoy it, for example, would you consider yourself a success?


People who tell you that happiness, achievement, and significance will come automatically if you simply do the work you love are misguided.

This is the reason why you cannot categorize the realms of your life neatly, assigning happiness to yourself, fulfillment at work, meaning for the family, inheritance for the community. Unless you regularly hit all four categories, any win will fail. You will experience what we call the "gain factor": you know you are doing what is right, but it still seems like a loss. You are worried about thoughts about other things you could do or get. Your successes and pleasures vanish as soon as they occur. On the contrary, the success that includes all four types of results is enriching, lasting ..."


"Success that lasts" By Laura Nash - Howard H. Stevenson - Harvard Business Review



In short, the best comes when we regularly make room for all four ingredients, even if only for a short time, every day.


  • pleasure

  • self realization

  • meaning

  • legacy for the community


Where would you like to start from?


Laura Nash is a senior research fellow and Howard H. Stevenson is the senior associate dean and the Sarofim-Rock Baker Foundation Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School in Boston, and chair of the Harvard Business School Publishing board.   

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#benesssere #successo #lauranash #howardhstevenson

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