Success with your progress. Each of us needs to progress in order to be fulfilled. I believe this is like a downward escalator when we are trying to climb upward. If we let ourselves stand still, that escalator will take us down. We have to always be walking up and we need to exert a lot more effort in order to progress and climb. We need to always be climbing.
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 Dr. Daniel Ward.
Dr. Ward is a plastic surgeon who focuses his entire practice on the face and neck. He is double board certified in facial plastic surgery and head and neck surgery. This background gives him a unique knowledge and understanding of the face and its surrounding structures. He was also awarded as one of the Top Doctors in America. Prior to medical school and his career in plastic surgery, Dr. Ward earned a master’s degree in chemistry. This background and interest promoted him to work with a leading cosmetic laboratory to develop his own skin care line, called FormRX Skincare, which combines tried and true ingredients along with the latest skin care technology to treat, prevent, and reverse the signs of aging.
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?
This is a tough question to answer. There are so many experiences that shape each one of us. One of the most meaningful experiences for me, like everybody, is my marriage. I have an amazing wife and am fortunate to be able to have her as a partner. Almost on a whim, we decided to get married the summer that we graduated from high school. Our logic was that we loved each other and, because we loved each other, we decided that we should just go ahead and get started. Looking back, our marriage has been like that ever since. We have made many decisions that perhaps resulted in more work and stress than we would otherwise have, but it has helped us become who we are today. We are industrious, hardworking, and definitely the sort of people who are visionaries. We complement each other well and help push each other to be our best.
We all have myths and misconceptions about success. What are some myths or misconceptions that you used to believe?
I think the biggest myth about success is thinking that it “just happens.” When most of us see someone who is successful, we don’t see the hours, days, and years of hard work and sacrifices that have been put into that endeavor. I am a big fan of history and love reading and biographies. I have read biographies of most of the presidents and many of the founding fathers. I am astonished by the difficulties and controversies that these outstanding individuals faced. The difficulties that they overcame inspires me to better handle the challenges that I face.
How has your definition of success changed?
I think the number one way that the definition of success has changed for me is realizing that status does not really matter. Whether that status is monetary, position or employment-related, or social, it just does not equate to success. It seems like it should equate to success, but I am always surprised when I find out about people who, on the surface, look like they are highly successful that are still unfulfilled. I think the success is fulfillment. If an individual is fulfilled, no matter their status, they have met success.
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?
I think the pandemic has helped many of us by giving us time to self-reflect. Unfortunately, it has also been a time for increased divisiveness and decreased tolerance. I think we need to learn to be able to deal with opinions and thoughts that are different than ours. We seem to have lost our ability to critically assess different viewpoints. Unfortunately, social media has encouraged us to place ourselves in our echo chambers where all we hear are opinions that our just like ours. I also think that the progression of technology has been an influence. It has certainly brought us closer by decreasing the distance that we must cross to communicate with each other. However, it seems that geographic barriers have now been replaced with ideological barriers where we have divided ourselves into camps based on people who agree or disagree with us. Before this technology existed, it might be difficult for us to find a group of people who think as we do. We were forced to interact with others, even if they disagreed with us. I think this allowed us to develop opinions and listen to new ideas.
What do you see as the unexpected positives in the pandemic? We would love to hear a few of your stories or examples.
I think one of the most unexpected positives of the pandemic has been a re-framing of our lives and an increased focus on the things that bring happiness. I believe that we are here to grow, develop, and improve on ourselves. I think without progression, we can’t find happiness. We can all relate to anecdotes of instances where we know of people that have achieved what looks like success, but they are terribly unhappy. I hope that people are seeking ways to find fulfillment and I think the pandemic has offered that opportunity for many.
For me, the pandemic gave me time to focus on some of the things that I needed to improve upon myself individually. For example, my fitness and health has improved. Having a period of time where my efforts could be focused on taking care of myself both physically and mentally has been huge for me. I kind of liken it to the instructions we get when we are flying: “in the case of emergency, oxygen masks will drop. Please put the mask on yourself first before helping other passengers.” I’ve realized that for myself, I was attempting to do other things without making sure that I was healthy.
This is not a new concept, but it is still a powerful one. In the Bible, Jesus is asked about the commandments, and he answers that we should love our neighbors as ourselves. Implicit within that statement is that we need to love our self before we can love our neighbor. I certainly think that the greatest satisfaction we get in life is in the service of others, but before we can demonstrate that love, we need to be sure that we are taking care of ourselves.
We’re all looking for answers about how to be successful now. Could you please share “5 Ways To Redefine Success Now?” (Please share a story or example for each)
I am a huge follower of Tony Robbins and I love the statement that he frequently repeats, which is, “success without fulfillment is failure.” The five ways that I would redefine success are as follows:
- Success with your emotions. I believe that our emotions determine our decisions and our decisions determine our destiny. On a personal level, as a busy facial plastic surgeon running multiple businesses with a demanding speaking schedule and travel schedule, I used to let my emotions affect my decisions in a negative way. I still do, but much less frequently. For example, I may be rushing to the operating room and get a question from a staff member and in an effort to simply solve the problem, I would blurt out an answer that was maybe not very well thought out or was perhaps overly curt or short with the individual. I let my emotion of stress and anxiety affect my decisions.
- Success with your physical condition. So much of our self-identity comes from our appearance. It is obviously not as significant of an issue as our minds, personality, etc. However, our physical appearance is our physical manifestation of our identity to the outside world. If we are not in a state where we feel satisfied with our physical condition, it affects us and can discourage us from making emotionally sound decisions.
- Success with your primary relationship. I believe your primary relationship, your marriage for example, is the single most important aspect of your life. That relationship helps strengthen each of us and helps us become the best versions of ourselves.
- Success with your progress. Each of us needs to progress in order to be fulfilled. I believe this is like a downward escalator when we are trying to climb upward. If we let ourselves stand still, that escalator will take us down. We have to always be walking up and we need to exert a lot more effort in order to progress and climb. We need to always be climbing.
- Success with spirituality and energy. This is potentially a controversial topic. Over the past 50 to 100 years, we have lost touch with spirituality. I think this is understandable to a large degree, because a lot of these institutions of organized religion have had members or leaders who have disappointed us. However, I feel that religion is an important element in our lives and addressing our energy and spirituality is important. I don’t think it is an accident that we see so many different societies that are totally disconnected who have come up with belief systems that are similar in nature. Getting in touch with your spirituality and that energy or greater power in the universe is important to me. For me, I believe religion, spirituality, etc is a way for us to improve ourselves. It is a personal thing that is aimed at helping us achieve a higher version of ourselves.
How would our lives improve if we changed our definition of success?
If we could change the definition of success to one that focuses more on our fulfillment and less on superficial status attainment, I think our society would enrich. I love the saying, “What e’er thou art, act well thy part.” No matter if you are a facial plastic surgeon, car mechanic, teacher, engineer, or businessman, finding fulfillment by doing the best job possible is important. Seeking out and doing those things that lead to fulfillment, whether that is fulfillment in one’s job or whether it is fulfilment by pursuing creative endeavors or whether it is fulfillment by service to others, are all ways that would enrich individual lives as well as society, in general. I think about an issue my wife and I have talked about a lot. We’ve talked a lot about how our emphasis in society seems to be misplaced. Although my wife and I both tremendously value the ingenuity and creativity of an IT startup, the value that is placed on these sorts of services seems a little misplaced when you compare it to the value of a teacher or even the value of a mother, who makes the difficult decision to forgo societal accolades in order to craft and shape the mind, body, and life of her child. Each of these areas can lead to fulfillment, but we get confused with status instead of fulfillment.
What’s the biggest obstacle that stands in the way of our redefined success? And what advice would you offer about overcoming those obstacles?
I think this all goes back to intentionality. All too often, we find ourselves down a road that we think is leading us towards success, happiness, and fulfillment, but we realize that the thing we thought would make us happy and fulfilled doesn’t actually do that. I think for many of us, we start down paths without really thinking about what we want. Figuring out what you want and then being able to pursue it is what leads to success.
Where do you go to look for inspiration and information about how to redefine success?
For me, books are the single best source of information. I am an avid audiobook listener and try to listen to books or physically read them whenever possible. I am amazed at how much I can get done by sneaking in a few minutes of reading here or there. With an audio book, it is easier than ever. With practice, I’ve been able to to listen and pick up books at 3X speed, which allows me to cover even more territory than I used to be able to figure out!
I work with a life coach who has helped me tremendously with many of these tasks and am an avid listener to Tony Robbins.
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?
How can our readers further follow your work online?
The best way is Instagram, @wardmd, or on my website www.wardmd.com
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this. We wish you continued success and good health.