Episode 56: Defining Success on Our Own Terms

Chasing success that’s been defined by societal attitudes and expectations can lead to empty victories, regrets or worse. Michael Biarnes, scientist and author of Redefining Success: Stories, Science, and Strategies to Prioritize Happiness and Overcome Life's "Oh Sh!t" Moments, talks about how to redefine success on your own terms so you can achieve more happiness, fulfillment, and alignment in life around the things that matter to you.

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Episode Highlights


How others’ expectations interfere with how we define success


Mike’s Oh sh!t moment


Keys for taking advantage of oh sh!t moments


Top ways not to define your own success


Strategies for redefining success


Olympic medalist Apollo Ohno’s story of redefining success


Replacing toxic comparisons with gratitude


Harvard study about whether more is always better


One of Mike’s practices for focusing on gratitude


Vulnerability and the top predictor of long-term health and happiness


The science behind oh sh!t moments

Mike’s view on the greatest unmet wellbeing need at work today

“Flexibility... So, as we align our lives, when we think of ourselves more holistically, it's really difficult sometimes to be very intentional with your time when you are on Zoom calls from 8am to 6pm, every day, right back to back to back meetings. And really, it's Monday through Friday, and then all of a sudden you get home, you're tired, it's really hard to be intentional, right? So I have to block off time. And it's even hard for me.

I think this concept of flexibility is really important. This whole concept of the great resignation, at least here in the United States, where upwards of 40% of individuals will be moving on to different jobs, hopefully, with either better benefits or pay are better aligned with what they want to do. But it's forcing employers to build in flexibility. Because in the end, this whole concept of working 80 hours a week, and on a very structured schedule, it just doesn't work. We have families, we have activities, we have extra extracurriculars. Many of us have side hustles that we like to do as well. So this idea of flexibility is really important in my mind.”

What “working with humans” means to Mike

“I've always thought of working with humans as a collaborative approach to problem solving… when you work in a team when you work with other human beings, it should not be additive, our efforts should not be additive. In fact, they shouldn't even be multiplicative, they should be exponential. So it should be “I” to the power of “we,” meaning that whatever I can do by myself when I bring in the right people and we have the right structures in place, we can have exponentially more productive, better outcomes as a team because we're bringing in all the right individuals getting the right minds in the room at the same time with very diverse perspectives to come up with very innovative and unique solutions.”


Read: Life Is in the Transitions: Mastering Change at Any Age
Read: Is more always better?: A survey on positional concerns

Michael Glazer is the creator and host of Humans At Work. His purpose in life is to make well-being at work a globally-accepted, basic human right. Learn more about Michael here.