Slow down: In a world that seems to perpetually rush us, it’s essential to slow down. Productivity doesn’t always equate to progress. As Peter Drucker wisely noted, “There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.” Slowing down allows us to make more informed, strategic decisions that move us closer to our goals without burning out all of our energy.

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 Danielle Sunberg.

Danielle Sunberg is an award-winning author, TEDx speaker, and authentic leadership coach. After working as a commercial litigator for a Washington D.C. law firm, Sunberg experienced extreme burnout and was diagnosed with depression. She left her firm and traveled six continents exploring what a truly fulfilling life looked like and studied conscious self-development. Inspired to create success on her terms, she founded her wellness brand that has been acquired by a Nasdaq publicly traded company. Sunberg now coaches high performers and speaks globally on the power of personal mastery to develop as authentic leaders.

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?

The first was back in 2017 when I was a commercial litigator at my law firm. Despite being at the top of my game, having just successfully defended my client against a $6 billion judgment, I was diagnosed with depression. While I had amassed everything I was taught I needed to be successful, wealth, power, and prestige, I felt empty and alone. I had to take a hard look at my definition of success if I were to truly enjoy life. It led to me leaving my law firm to travel six continents exploring my authentic definition of success.

The second moment was in 2018 while sailing on a catamaran off the coast of Greece with my husband and some friends. I tell the full story in my book, Atlas of Being, but the short version is that we were caught in a huge storm. I watched my husband transform into Neptune, god of the sea, exhilarated by the wild ride. On the other side of the boat huddled in a ball was my girlfriend, frantically sending messages to her loved ones in case she were never to return home. Witnessing these two vastly different experiences showed me the immense power of our thoughts in shaping our experiences. This realization has become an anchor for me during my own personal storms, reminding me that my thoughts determine my perspective.

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

Like many, I grew up believing that success was synonymous with accumulating wealth, power, and prestige. In my earlier career as an attorney, I relentlessly pursued this conventional notion of success, often at the cost of my personal life and well-being and ending in a mental breakdown. It took that level of suffering for me to take a hard look at that definition of success, and I’ve come to recognize that genuine success requires prioritizing health, relationships, and joy. The more I prioritize my mental, emotional, and physical well-being, the more I experience true success.

The other myth was that success is a destination, a fixed point I needed to reach. Now I understand that success is a dynamic journey that evolves as I evolve.

How has your definition of success changed?

My definition of success has undergone a profound transformation. Instead of fixating on external metrics, I’ve shifted my focus to an inward journey. The traditional markers of “wealth, power, and prestige” have been completely reverse engineered.

Wealth is no longer limited to numbers in my bank account. Wealth is far more expansive, encompassing my overall well-being, the joy I experience, the quality of my personal relationships, and the richness of life.

Power is no longer about controlling over others. Instead, it’s about recognizing my innate power as the creator of my life. True power is the ability to stand confidently in who I am.

Prestige is no longer about seeking validation from others. Prestige is about self-respect. It means relying on my own inner light rather than needing someone else to shine theirs on me.

Understanding success this way allows the best of me to shine through, and as a result I’ve noticed better outcomes.

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?

Post-pandemic success demands that we nurture our interconnectedness. Years of disruption from our regular social rhythms has shown us the importance of community. We’ve come to understand that life is not a journey we take alone, but a path meant to be walked together. Community can mean family, friends, neighbors, your pickleball partner, or a coach like myself. It’s about allowing someone else to help you, inspire you, laugh and cry with you, and help you continue to grow into the person you know you are.

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

The pandemic forced us to tap more deeply into our innate skill set. We have an incredible power to navigate adversity that we don’t use and tend to forget about when all is well. Through the pandemic, we’ve realized just how creative, resourceful, compassionate, and resilient we are. We created new ways of connecting, playing, working, and living in the world!

Right before the pandemic hit the U.S., I gave birth to my daughter. Overwhelmed by the uncertainties of parenthood in this new reality, my husband and I rented an RV and drove across the country to live with my parents. For six months, we lived in a multi-generational household. I had the most beautiful opportunity to learn motherhood from my mother, and I watched my father transform into the most devoted grandfather. Our time together forged such a special bond between them and my daughter, a profound gift.

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

  1. Slow down: In a world that seems to perpetually rush us, it’s essential to slow down. Productivity doesn’t always equate to progress. As Peter Drucker wisely noted, “There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.” Slowing down allows us to make more informed, strategic decisions that move us closer to our goals without burning out all of our energy.
  2. Invest in self-knowledge: Our values are the compass guiding our actions. If we don’t know what we value, others may define it for us. Take the time to gain clarity on your values and desires. These will become your north stars, guiding you to success on your terms.
  3. Cultivate self-trust: If your values tell you to take a left turn while everyone else is taking a right turn, what are you going to do? Trusting yourself is pivotal, especially when your inner compass points in a different direction from the crowd.
  4. Shift from doing to being: Conventional success revolves around doing, achieving, and accumulating. We’re driven by the need to continually prove our worth. However, a powerful shift occurs when we transition from this perpetual “doing” mindset to simply “being” in the present moment. In this state of being, we discover that success lives right there in the richness of the experience. The realization is that in this moment, we are already existing in a state of success because nothing needs changing, fixing, or adding.
  5. Redefine failure. To redefine success, we must also redefine its opposite as they are two sides of the same coin. Success simply means that your desire was met, and failure means it wasn’t. Rather than viewing it negatively, consider it as valuable information. Also, remember that success and failure are confined to the moment in time in which we look at it. If we allow ourselves to wait before we judge something, it can transform before our eyes. I cannot count the number of times I changed my mind on whether I was a success or a failure as an entrepreneur. In the end, what does it matter? I’ve enjoyed the ride and gained incredible insights along the way.

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

Shifting our definition of success isn’t just a personal journey; it’s a potential societal revolution. In today’s world, we’ve long pursued external markers — money, power, and fame — as the traditional path to success. But I’ve witnessed, in my own life and through my clients, the toll this pursuit takes on mental and emotional well-being.

Imagine a life where you wake up genuinely excited about the work you do because it aligns with your true self. Prioritizing success on our terms brings unmatched fulfillment. Stress and anxiety diminish, and the endless comparison with others fades away. Global well-being would skyrocket, fueling our energy and motivation to accomplish feats that would otherwise seem impossible.

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

The biggest obstacle to redefining success on our own terms is simple: acculturation. As I explain in my book, Atlas of Being, acculturation is the process of interweaving who we are with the culture that we live in. In the Western world, we place immense value on professional achievement, and our self-worth often gets entangled in our net-worth.

We must summon the courage to step out of these predefined boxes. Non-conformity is daunting, for we all yearn to belong. But remember that the existing societal framework only offers us a sense of belonging from the outside looking in.

It’s a scary thing to leave the security of these boxes, especially if our net-worth is high! Why bother? Peeling off the layers of acculturation connects us to the core of our humanity. While it might be intimidating at times, my advice is to embrace it, fear and all. You can be scared and brave at the same time.

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

We typically think of success as a professional endeavor, but that’s only because our society has taught us that our profession is the most important aspect of who we are. However, this perspective is just a fraction of the truth. When we expand our understanding of who we are, success transforms into a much grander pursuit. Once we understand the real question we are asking ourselves, our source for inspiration and information changes.

Ultimately, this question is one that only you can answer for yourself. No one can tell you what your values are or what lights you up or how to jump out of bed inspired to seize the day. Yet, the search within ourselves can feel overwhelming as we’ve not been taught how to find all the answers that live there. This is why I’ve become a coach, to help guide people on their own transformative journeys.

For me, a cherished friend and mentor Ram Dass, has been my guide. A former Harvard psychology professor turned spiritual teacher who wrote the best-selling book, Be Here Now, he possesses a remarkable ability to bridge the logical and intuitive, the heart and mind, physical and metaphysical dimensions of our existence. His wisdom offers profound insights to build a successful life because he guides us towards the truth of who we are.

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.

It would be a true thrill to meet Ray Dalio. As I delve deeper into my own work, he continues to rise to the surface as a thought leader who embodies the insights he’s awakened to through his own journey of self-development. Dalio is a model of what it looks like to be anchored in personal mastery. His book, Principles, sits happily on my shelf and I love thumbing through it to remember my own “aha” moments through his words.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

If you’d like to learn more about me and what I do coaching clients and speaking to organizations about authentic leadership, visit my website:

You can also pick up a copy of my award-winning book, Atlas of Being. It’s a backpocket coach for personal development, following my leap away from the corporate world and around the world. Each chapter is an adventure wrapped around an “aha” moment that awakens a piece of ourselves. The end of each chapter has reflection questions so you can process your own incredible insights that drop in along the way.

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