The Stool of Life

World-renowned journalist Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post has developed a metaphor for the ineffective way in which our society defines success. She calls it the Third Metric and uses a three-legged stool as the metaphor. Arianna correctly concludes that the definition of success that most of us learn from parents, relatives, friends, teachers and the media encompasses two elements—money and position, or to be more direct, Money and Power. Nothing against earning sufficient money to meet your true needs, or working for advancement at your job, but those two legs without the third leg of Service, Arianna contends, ultimately leads to discontent. I agree and have explored this point in depth in my latest book, BALANCE: The Business-Life Connection.

This point has been made over and over again throughout history by many esteemed philosophers and students of humanity. Over 3,000 years ago, Aristotle claimed from his studies that most of us seek happiness through four things—money, power, sex and beauty. And none of these work for long-term fulfillment. An intense focus on any one these elements provides temporary satisfaction and then the need for more of the same.

I have found in my life and in discussions with numerous successful men and women that the most powerful of the elements of the Third Metric Stool is Service. Here is how it becomes part of the equation of life that leads to long-term fulfillment.

Each of us comes into this world with something that we are good at and which we are meant to share with the world. I call it your Essence. When you discover what your Essence is and apply it to a need in the world that makes it a better place your have discovered your Life Purpose. This discovery always results in intense Passion, which in turn creates incredible levels of emotional and physical Energy. You may forget to eat, to sleep, miss appointments, and more. At the same time, a strong connection between your right and left brain is developed and your Creativity expands enormously. You find that you can solve problems that were not possible previously. This often results in Innovation, and as a consequence, you get a Return. It could be financial, psychological, emotional, spiritual, or some combination. This always results in intense Gratitude, which is the necessary and sufficient condition for long-term fulfillment. You are happy with your life!

I am not suggesting that you will reach some form of Nirvana and a state of constant bliss. Not so. In reality, there will be many ups and some downs in your life; and when you look back over a month, a year, and towards the end of your life, you will feel a true sense of fulfillment. That’s the way life could and should be lived. It just might be the path to a sustainable humanity.