Learn about yourself. Understand your strengths and what drives you. This will keep you engaged and help you set goals aligned with your values. This will also give you “permission” to carve your own path and shed the pressure to conform.

Have you ever noticed how often we equate success with more? Whether that’s more products, more profits, more activities or more accomplishments, we buy into the belief that we have to do more to have more to be more. And that will sum up to success. And then along comes The Great Resignation. Where employees are signaling that the “more” that’s being offered — even more pay, more perks, and more PTO — isn’t summing up to success for them. We visited with leaders who are redefining what success means now. Their answers might surprise you.

As a part of this series I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Aruna Krishnan.

Aruna Krishnan is a Technology Leader and Bestselling Author. She is an advocate for Mental Health and Women’s Empowerment. Her main mission in life is to give people hope and help them find happiness through a process of self-discovery. Aruna has been featured in Authority Magazine, Thrive Global, and WomLEAD.

Thank you for making time to visit with us about the topic of our time. Our readers would like to get to know you a bit better. Can you please tell us about one or two life experiences that most shaped who you are today?

About ten years ago, I was having an existential crisis as a result of some adversities in my life. I embarked on a personal transformation to reduce my anxiety, overcome my depression (which really means finding ways to cope with it), and become resilient.

I tried to find answers. Guidance that could help me be in control of my life and destiny. I read many books. Books from all religious and philosophical perspectives. At their core, they all alluded to the same thing i.e. addressing our mindset is the starting point to everything: happiness, resilience, empathy, and clarity.

Books about Mindfulness particularly caught my attention. I meditated daily for a year to retrain my brain to see my thoughts, watch them pass, observe them, and do nothing. This regimen enabled me to be in the moment and be in control of myself. It greatly increased my self-awareness and emotional intelligence. It also helped me understand that I can choose how I want to react to adversity. I chose to stand tall, stare adversity in the face, and advocate for myself!

We all have myths and misconceptions about success. What are some myths or misconceptions that you used to believe?

I used to think success meant:

Achieving fame or recognition. Actors, musicians, and other artists are prime examples of successful people.

Having a high pay grade. The higher your salary or corporate rank the more successful you are.

Being a Team Leader. You can only consider yourself successful if you have direct reports. Being a team contributor is not enough.

How has your definition of success changed?

Now, my view of success relates to intrinsic factors such as:

Being fulfilled. Success and engagement are complementary. Where there is a lack of engagement, there is no sense of success.

Aligning with our purpose. Gaining a sense of purpose drives us to help others, empowering them in the process. Adding value to people’s lives gives our lives value, meaning, and a feeling of success.

Feeling content. Fame and money alone do not equate to success. If you are not happy, that negates any sense of success. Success starts with our well-being.

The pandemic, in many ways, was a time of collective self-reflection. What changes do you believe we need to make as a society to access success post pandemic?

Identify what really matters. Spend more time doing what makes you happy. Life is short. Make every moment count by being present…for yourself and others.

Recognize that success is not a relative measure. Someone else’s achievement does not undermine your value or stature. Define what success means for you. If we all value our individualism, we don’t need to succumb to the “rat race” mentality.

Understand that burnout is counterproductive to success. Work smarter, not harder. The key to success is doing more “value-add” activities. For example, hiring an assistant to handle administrative tasks while you focus on product or business growth strategies. Trying to overload yourself results in burnout which prevents you from being creative or innovative. At its worst, burnout makes you stop trying altogether.

What do you see as the unexpected positives in the pandemic? We would love to hear a few of your stories or examples.

As with any type of disruption, the pandemic has forced us to rethink some of our ideas and habits.

Work-Life Balance. When people could work from home, they realized how much time they gained once they eliminated their commute. Time they could spend working on activities such as caring for kids and pets, gardening, and DIY projects.

Technological Innovation. Pre-pandemic, video conferencing was seldom used, suited for only a few participants, and had limited bandwidth. With entire workforces going remote, video conferencing solutions stepped up their products to make virtual interactions easier and more engaging.

Reinvention. Mass layoffs forced people to rethink their corporate jobs. Some started small businesses, some dabbled in podcast production, and some pivoted to a new line of work. It sometimes takes disruption to prompt reinvention.

We’re all looking for answers about how to be successful now. Could you please share “5 Ways To Redefine Success Now?”

Learn about yourself. Understand your strengths and what drives you. This will keep you engaged and help you set goals aligned with your values. This will also give you “permission” to carve your own path and shed the pressure to conform.

Shed old beliefs. Before you can embark on a new journey, you’ll need to unlearn old beliefs and habits. Some ideas get deeply ingrained from childhood and require intentional reprogramming. This will enable you to proceed with a new mindset and outlook.

Pursue your passion…unapologetically. Once you embrace new ideas, you empower yourself to move forward…with or without the approval of others. In many cases, this will make you a trailblazer and you will serve as a role model to those who may not think they have the option or the courage to pursue “non-traditional” avenues.

Be willing to fail to succeed. Change can be a scary proposition. Any time you choose to do something outside of your comfort zone, you can expect a learning curve. You may or may not thrive from the get-go. Allow yourself room for failure and use these moments to learn and adjust. Setbacks are not an indication of our abilities but rather an opportunity to tackle challenges and experience growth.

Keep tabs on your happiness meter. Both short-term and long-term. If you’ve given yourself enough time to explore a certain path and it is not resonating with you, don’t be afraid to change course. Use the lessons learned to guide your future endeavors. Happiness is not a result of success. It is a prerequisite to success.

How would our lives improve if we changed our definition of success?


We can set goals that are independent of what others are doing. This enables us to appreciate our wins as stand-alone events, facilitating increased self-worth and self-esteem. As we build our sense of self and confidence, we become content and gain energy to do things that give us joy.

What’s the biggest obstacle that stands in the way of our redefined success? And what advice would you offer about overcoming those obstacles?

We are programmed from childhood to have certain perceptions of success. Our fear of going against the norm and justifying our redefined attitudes can feel like a burden. This crimps our ability to change our mindset.

The question we have to ask ourselves is, “Have I served myself well with my current views?” If not, that should be enough reason for us to proceed with actions consistent with redefining success. Trying to please others will then take a backseat to taking care of our mental health. Energizing ourselves first gives us the ability to tend to others in need. Not simply to win their approval but to add value to their lives.

Where do you go to look for inspiration and information about how to redefine success?

I like to read spiritual and self-help books. I enjoy considering new perspectives and determining if they could improve the quality of my life. I have learned a lot from books about mindfulness and psychology. Changing ourselves requires us to start with our mindset — thoughts, actions, and habits.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He, she or they might just see this if we tag them.

I would love to meet any middle school or high school administrator to learn what programs and resources they have to equip kids to explore career options. I would also like to share my ideas on how to prepare these students for their post-high school life…from a mindset perspective.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

They can follow me on LinkedIn

They can also find my books on Amazon at Aruna Krishnan’s Author Profile

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this. We wish you continued success and good health.