Moving Beyond Success

The importance of separating self from business
Fiume Photo Color Cc
Frank Fiume explores ways in which people define significance. Photo courtesy of Frank Fiume

In December 2008, I attended “Date with Destiny,” my fifth Tony Robbins event, and the longest one he offers — a weeklong marathon.

All of it would lead to answering the question, “Why do you do what you do?” Our mission was to redesign our lives to create what we most desired.

Coming into the eavent, I believed my “story” was about equating my self-worth with achievement and defying the odds I had faced as a boy when I felt rejected, inadequate and underestimated. As I matured, I believed my story was all about me being or feeling significant in the world, being seen as valuable because of what I had accomplished.

In fact, deep down, I felt that I would only be loved and respected because of my accolades. And finally, I believed that if I didn’t succeed, I would lose the love I wanted and needed.

It quickly dawned on me that my intense need for significance in business, which I defined as a need for power and admiration, had cost me the ability to maximize closeness in personal relationships.

I often held back, fearful that I would not receive the love I wanted, especially if I weren’t significant enough.

I also understood that my need for certainty had limited my success because of my need to control everything!

As Tony, a preeminent life coach, pointed out, most people want love and connection, but they settle for significance instead. That’s exactly what I was doing. My false belief was that I was only worthy of love as long as I was successful in business.

I began to realize that I needed to be more loving, more accepting and more forgiving — of myself and others.

I always demanded more from myself that anyone else ever did, but I wasn’t very forgiving if I disappointed myself by not getting results.

I knew then that I would need to be more empathetic to everyone’s human needs and the necessity to express pain, heal it and move beyond it.

Tony stressed the difference between knowing your values and consciously choosing your values and prioritizing them in a new sequence.

As I thought about it, it became so obvious to me that gratitude should be my No. 1 and most important value.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think I was ever an ungrateful person, but gratitude just wasn’t something I consciously cultivated — much less was it the driving force in my life.

But as I heard Tony talk more about his own deep appreciation for his good fortune, I saw that gratitude is a crucial component of a positive mindset.

It gives you an instant feeling of well-being. It makes you feel happier and more satisfied in all areas of your life. And it reminds you to focus on all the good qualities of the people in your life and on the things you already have.

Tony also talked about creating a compelling future, about finding something that gives your life meaning and drives you with a sense of purpose toward your goals, but also allows you to give something back to life.

He asked whether we had visions that were strong enough to allow us to push forward through the challenges of life regardless of the pain we would meet.

As I sat there listening intently, I felt as if my brain were being rewired.

No longer was I driven so completely by the need for significance through financial success. Instead, my primary needs had switched to love, connection and contribution.

All these thoughts collided in a flash, and I realized that the business I created was never about me.

My business and I were two separate entities. That was the epiphany.

While I was grateful beyond words for all that my business had done for me, my life could no any longer be defined by its success.

That realization was life-changing. 


The forgoing commentary was excerpted with permission from “Running with My Head Down: An Entrepreneur’s Story of Passion, Perseverance and Purpose” by Frank V. Fiume II (Greenleaf Book Group Press, 2019).

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