Viewing self-care as a need in your life. Self-care enables you to operate at your best. Self-care is not about being selfish.

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 Michael Dow, RN, MS, MHA, MSM.

Michael Stephen Dow always had a love for science and the human body so for a third career, he used his GI bill to go through nursing school and graduated in August 2020. Michael has 5 college degrees and now works as a Registered Nurse at an inpatient psychiatric hospital. Books he has authored have garnered many awards including best Children’s Education Series from Independent Press Award (Nurse Florence® children’s health book series). His company will be having a National Kids Essay Contest starting September 13th every year through Thanksgiving. The Grand Prize Winner gets a free set of the Nurse Florence series in hardcover.

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?

My mom is from the French Speaking area of Canada (Quebec) and my dad is from Alabama. They met by happenstance. My dad was working a lot, so I learned French as my first language from spending so much time with my mom. I unfortunately was not very well-prepared for kindergarten for English, so my mom and I watched a lot of Sesame Street, Captain Kangaroo and Mr. Rogers to get my English up to speed. This was the first of many times in my life I was brought out of my comfort zone and had to grow. I was not raised with a strong religious background but met some friends in college and we dove deep into seeking religious truth. Years later, I joined the military because of the events of Sep 11, 2001, even though I was a pacificist most of my life. This culture was new to me, and I had to quickly get out of my comfort zone again. In my 40s, I went back to school to become a nurse. The nursing program was an accelerated 15-month Master’s program which was the most challenging training program I had been through in my life. Time and time again, I have had to come out of my comfort zone which caused me to grow in ways I couldn’t have imagined.

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

I don’t think I would call it a misconception, but as I was growing up, people around me saw success as an accumulation of material things such as a nice house, nice cars, etc. It is a way to live, but it is also fragile since things can be destroyed by a natural disaster or stolen. Another way to attain a form of success is to earn promotions in your career(s). A person can obtain a sense of satisfaction when he or she gets promoted at work and gets to experience new levels of responsibility and authority. Another way to attain some success is to set goals in life and then work hard to achieve them like being a caring husband or supportive mother. Some ideas are so big though that it may take decades to accomplish.

How has your definition of success changed?

Merriam-Webster defines succeeding as “to turn out well and to attain a desired object or end.” My exploration of mindfulness started as a teenager and has intensified over the years. It relates to a name for our species, a human being. Simply being who you are, learning how to modify your behavior so that your personality can evolve, and living in the moment is a key to live successfully every day. This allows success to be obtained every day instead of far in the future.

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?

If we all lived in the moment and seized the day to make the most of the current time we have been given, then many people may avoid depression due to not meeting long term goals and anxiety due to worrying about the future. All we have is now since our past is a memory and our future is not promised nor able to be experienced separate from the present. By living in the moment, we can find hope and peace.

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

One thing that my company did as a positive due to the COVID pandemic is create the Nurse Florence® series. I wanted to help supplement my children’s science education since things were moving to online schooling. The series has won many book awards including a best Children’s Educational Series award with Independent Press Award. Nurse Florence, What is a Heart Attack? won best Juvenile Non-Fiction with National Indie Excellence Award. Parents are reporting that they are learning things from the books as they read them with their children. We are improving the country’s health literacy level and making an impact on the world.

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

A first step is to start to get comfortable getting out of your comfort zone since redefining success requires a change. A previous article I wrote that can help with that can be found at:

A second step is viewing self-care as a need in your life. Self-care enables you to operate at your best. Self-care is not about being selfish. An article I wrote on the topic can be found at:

A third step is to try and practice mindfulness every day. A great article with Jon Kabat-Zinn about this way to live can be found at: Practicing mindfulness is a skill. The more you do it, the better you get it at. If you want to move your idea of success into the present moment instead of in the future or something accomplished in the past, then mindfulness is required.

A fourth step that may seem unrelated at first is to get good sleep and maintain good sleep hygiene. Humans need sleep and we need good quality sleep to think and act appropriately. Make sleep hygiene a part of your life so you can address the issues you encounter each moment with tranquility, courage, and thoughtfulness. An article I wrote on the subject can be found at:

A fifth step is managing your stress. Stress can sometimes easily disrupt our internal mental equilibrium and brings us out of the moment and into thoughts about the future or past. An article I wrote about stress-proofing your life in your relationships can be found at: An article I wrote on stress-proofing your life in your work can be found at: An article I wrote about stress-proofing your life in your parenting can be found at:

A sixth step is research and understand how our amazing brain works. Dow Creative Enterprises has written some books to help with that titled Nurse Florence, How Does the Brain Work?, Nurse Florence, How Do We Feel Pain? And the soon to be published Nurse Florence, What are Emotions? Understanding the brain helps a person understand their thoughts. Understanding your thoughts can help you live in the moment. Living in the moment can help you live successfully every day.

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

Living in the moment and learning to know oneself as a key to successful living will help reduce anxiety and depression for some people. We still need goals to strive for in the future, but if what makes a successful life is defined only in the future or found in the past, it will be hard to live in a peaceful moment. Living in a peaceful moment helps one to help others.

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 ot redefining success is culture. The culture we live in helps define success. Changing one’s thoughts can be hard sometimes. By being an observer and noticing how one came to certain conclusions about things like what success is will help a person redefine things. A person doesn’t need to use anger toward the culture for redefining things. Culture is needed for our life. Live in the moment and try to understand how you arrived at your moment so that you can nudge yourself into more positive future moments.

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

Transformational leadership. Sometimes you have to be a transformational leader to yourself. A great article on what this style is can be found at:

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.

Karyn Kusama

How can our readers further follow your work online? and

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