3 Pillars of a Successful Life
If you do an Internet search for “how to have a successful life,” you’ll find endless tips on attitude, habits, prioritizing, and time management.
Get up early. Ask questions. Find a mentor. Use a project management app. Don’t use apps at all.
But to find true success—true abundance, fulfillment, and growth—you really only need to nurture three extremely powerful qualities.
These are the 3 pillars of a successful life, and they have been on my mind a lot since recently completing a 10-day Vipassana course. Vipassana is a form of meditation that emphasizes self-observation and—ultimately—self-transformation. The goal is to see things as they really are. In fact, that's what "Vipassana" means.
The course was profoundly challenging for me. Ten days of focused self-observation is difficult. Even painful. Even after years of meditation and my own practice of daily mindfulness, I still caught my own mind churning through automatic negative thoughts. Sitting that long with myself, I became very familiar with the fear, jealousy, and pain hidden within me. And I became more deeply aware of the power my mind holds—the power to either propel me towards the good or sink me into suffering.
The power to guide me to the life I dream of or trap me in the life I dread.
I can (and do) teach you great strategies for building a rockstar team and marketing effectively. I also have plenty of tips for creating a daily routine that helps you build up your creativity, focus, and positive mindset.
But the 3 pillars I am about the share are the ultimate qualities you need for a successful life.
The more you build on these traits, the more natural it becomes to pick up those detail-level habits that help you build the kind of existence you’ve always dreamed of. More importantly, these pillars bring a sense of joy and prosperity into your life regardless of where you are in your journey of material success.
And most importantly, you will build on these qualities all your life. This means you can always look forward to deeper fulfillment and greater abundance.
Pretty nice, right?
Let’s dive in.
Pillar #1: Morality
When it comes to building a successful life, morality is your baseline. This quality should stand at the heart of every choice you make.
I know, it seems obvious. But when I talk about morality, I’m not just talking about whether or not to return the wallet you found in the parking lot. I’m talking about constantly asking yourself:
Will this action have a positive impact?
- Am I making a choice that is safe and healthy for my body?
- Am I making a choice that is safe and healthy for my mind?
- Could this choice cause pain for others?
- Will this choice build others up?
- Is this choice loving, supportive, or considerate?
Now, making a positive impact won’t always be the same as making others happy. If an employee turns out to be an ill-fit for your team, you may have to make the tough decision to let them go. That individual probably won’t feel good about your decision. But you will have made a positive impact on team morale. And—if you terminate the employee in a way that is honest and respectful—you give that person an opportunity to learn, grow, and discover success somewhere else.
Now, this all sounds very easy in writing, but positive decision-making doesn’t always come as naturally as we’d hope. Fear, stress, and envy compromise our good intentions. We end up making choices where the driving goal is to run from conflict or pain. In the worst of circumstances, we may even intend to hurt others.
The best way to keep our focus on morality is to cultivate positive thoughts. The more we turn our minds toward the positive, the more we’re able to see the potential to create better things out of challenging situations.
How do we cultivate positive thoughts?
Glad you asked...
Pillar #2: Direction of Mind
Your mind thinks the way your heart beats: constantly and without your command.
If you’ve ever tried meditation, you know this. If you have never meditated, let me explain what it’s like.
You sit still in a comfortable position. You (probably) close your eyes. You clear out distraction by finding a point of focus (often the rise and fall of your breath). And then you notice it. The internal monologue that is always. running.
My leg is going to fall asleep in this position. What’s that smell? Don’t forget to call Mom today. I hope she doesn’t want to talk about the thing with the house. Are you focusing on your breath? Focus! In. Out. In. Out. In. Out. I feel like such a failure. Why do I feel like a failure right now? I’m literally doing nothing.
When you actually stop to listen to your own thoughts, it’s sheer chaos. It makes no sense.
This is known as “monkey mind.” The mind jumps from branch to branch, thought to thought, from one pain to another. If you don’t focus intentionally—if you don’t make an active choice about how to direct your thoughts—your mind will choose for itself. And without training, it will always choose suffering.
I know there are a lot of guys in the home services industry who don’t feel like meditation is for them. But trust me: this is not a delicate use of time. Sitting quietly with your mind forces you to confront a lot of pain and fear you did not realize you had been harboring. Most importantly, it reveals one very surprising truth:
All your suffering comes from your mind. Not from your negligent father or manipulative ex. Not from the jerk who always steals your business or the accident that totaled your car or even a worldwide pandemic.
Suffering comes from the way you process these challenges. It comes from your own expectations and your stubborn belief that you cannot find happiness in a world where these problems exist.
Your mind is so powerful. It can be your greatest ally or your one source of suffering. Which role it plays depends entirely on your ability to choose and direct your thoughts.
You decide what deserves your focus. You choose the frame through which you view obstacles. It’s up to you to look around and see the abundance, the possibility, the opportunity.
Direct your mind. Don’t let your mind direct you.
Pillar #3: Wisdom and Insight
Speaking of being passive…
The third pillar of a successful life is wisdom and insight… not to be confused with knowledge and intelligence.
There is value in being smart—in learning and applying information.
But what really ensures success and fulfillment is your ability to use the lessons learned from your personal journey.
I see so many business owners get caught up in dogma, whether that means they're fully devoted to the advice of a trusted colleague or they're making all their business decisions based on articles in their most trusted publication. Don’t get me wrong, I do think it’s important to collect data and learn from those around us. Get Out of the Truck wouldn’t exist if I didn’t see the value in drawing insight from the lessons of those who’d gone before you.
The problem is when you’re so stuck on gathering intel that you stop observing your own experiences and listening to your own voice.
Wisdom is remarkable because it’s something you own. It’s something you earn. No gives it to you; you get it by moving forward, paying attention, and taking notes.
And this is so important, because sure, I can tell you all about the importance of discipline and confronting your emotional DNA. But I can't tell you the best way for a professional with your exact balance of strengths and weaknesses to inspire trust among clients who share the cultural values that are specific to your community.
That is something no one will ever know the way you know it. No one can learn it the way you are about to learn it.
So by all means, check in with those you admire to gain new insight and borrow from their wisdom. But check in with yourself, too.
What does it mean to live your specific life with morality?
What is the most effective way to take charge of your own thoughts?
And who were you meant to be in this world?
Get a firm grasp on these three pillars, and you can expect more than a successful life.
You can expect joy, creativity, and the sense that you are exactly who you were meant to be, doing exactly what you were meant to do.
Further Resources on This Topic
Free Video Course: Creating a Business That Makes an Impact