Happiness is a measure of success: People are not just giving up jobs in the Great Resignation, they are redefining parameters of success and what it means to them. We look for success because we think it will make us happy. Know that happiness is a state of mind, not a destination. A happy state of mind is more likely to attract success along the way.

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 Ruchika Lal.

Ruchika Lal, long time meditator and founder of Winked!, aims to bring joy back into adulting through her start-up. In her latest venture, she brings 15+ years of senior leadership experience from Fortune 50 companies and combines it with her decade-long journey of teaching meditation.

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?

I grew up very ambitious and driven. I couldn’t wait to be on the cover of Fortune magazine. Because I was super judgmental and impatient, the first emotion people felt around me was fear. I came to the US in my early 20s to do my MBA at Wharton, which is where I met Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. Learning meditation from him has been the single biggest life changing event for me. I went from being uptight and stiff to feeling comfort and ease in my skin. I went from lost tourists never asking me for directions to strangers now coming up and striking a conversation with me in languages that I don’t even understand! It’s been a long but short journey from the head to the heart.

Another time in my life that comes to mind was during my days in the corporate world. I was at the top of my game and doing exceedingly well. I thought it was all me. Then there came a two-year time span when I was no longer heading projects and suddenly I was no longer perceived as the superstar that I was in the past. I struggled and did everything in my power to change that, to no avail! As the needle of time moved once again, I found myself heading key initiatives and driving them successfully. There was no looking back. I realized that I was the same person then and now. Nothing had changed. It was a function of time and an invisible force at work. While I can give 100%, success or failure is determined by factors far bigger and beyond my control. From that day on, I just focused on what I could do — which is how I showed up, and I stopped obsessing about the outcome.

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

I was driven and had seen success early on in my life. I assumed that external success and recognition would bring a sense of contentment and fulfilment andthat it would fill this void or lack that I felt from inside. The more I achieved, the more I realized that external success had little impact on my internal state. The answer does not lie in chasing an external goalpost, but being in complete alignment with your inner purpose.

How has your definition of success changed?

Adulting is not easy. Keeping a positive attitude and being able to smile on a tough day is a sign of success. Doing the best that I can in the moment, with all the constraints that moment can have, is success. Not holding on to events (good or bad) and going with the flow, is success. More than the destination, how I travel is what counts.

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?

The pandemic has reminded us more than ever that it is an interdependent world. What impacts one, impacts many. While the pandemic was very challenging, it also brought forth the best of the human spirit. It reminded us of the importance of connection and community. It made clear that we need to prioritize mental health and wellness to create a more supportive new normal for all of us. Prioritizing cooperation over competition, journey over destination, kindness over judgment is the way to access success in a post pandemic world. Success will require us to think in “and” function and not “or.” We will need to blend our intellect with our intuition, our creativity with data and our passion with compassion.

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 look at life from a broader perspective. In our daily race and constantly “on” culture, suddenly we were made to hit the “pause” button. The external distractions were gone, and people had to confront things that they had swept under the carpet. It was a trying time for many, as they had to deal with unaddressed and unresolved issues. But it was also a period of great metamorphosis. It allowed many to heal from the past and move forward. Healing happened not just for humanity but also for the Earth.

I remember, it was April of 2020 and the pandemic was at its peak in NYC. I needed to pick up some prescriptions and decided to go to the pharmacy close by. There was fear in the air. The mood was somber. Yet there was a palpable difference. No one was looking down at their phones. For the first time people were making eye contact and connecting with those who were behind the counter instead of treating them like robots without any emotion or life. The gratitude that one felt for these heroes who were risking their lives to show up for us was immeasurable. The same New Yorkers who were perceived to be indifferent were now reaching out to each other to extend a touch of humanity.

There were many such shining examples of social good coming to the forefront: running errands and getting groceries for elderly couples in the same building, dropping food off at the doorstep of those impacted by COVID, and many more. The heroism of healthcare professionals remains unparalleled, andwe saw humanity hit and rise in resilience all at once. Such is the brilliance of the cycle of life!

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.)

  1. Happiness is a measure of success: People are not just giving up jobs in the Great Resignation, they are redefining parameters of success and what it means to them. We look for success because we think it will make us happy. Know that happiness is a state of mind, not a destination. A happy state of mind is more likely to attract success along the way.
  2. Success is the courage to follow your heart and your dreams: Often when we look at those whom we consider as trail blazers, we see that they’ve had the courage to follow their dreams as opposed to taking the safe way. No matter where you land in that journey, the fulfilment will always be unparalleled.
  3. “Clarity of mind, purity of heart and sincerity in action is a formula for success”- Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: This quote is a personal favorite. It captures the essence of what it takes to succeed! Let your intuition and inner voice guide you. And then give it all you have to go in that direction.
  4. Success is about paying it forward: All of us have reached where we are because someone had our back. It’s time to pay it forward and extend the same and more to another. No social change happens only by the effort of an individual. It’s a collective journey and it’s about rising together. After all, life is not a zero-sum game!
  5. Success is leaving the place, people, better than you found it: We are keepers of the planet and humanity. Success is leaving every person more uplifted after your interaction. Be true to yourself without hurting another. Let your words bring peace and harmony. Let the world rejoice that you walked on this planet.

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

The race, the chase, would stop. The external chase leads to internal exhaustion. Often at the end of the chase, there is a sense of void. You have checked off the external milestones, but on the inside there is still an emptiness. Defining success from the inside-out would bring a paradigm shift in the way we understand and navigate success.

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 believe the story, the conditioning that the world has painted about success. We blindly follow the route that has been laid out as the roadmap for us to thrive,not realizing that people at the end of that very road may not be happy or fulfilled either. It is time to step back and re-evaluate what we believe as our truth. It is time to redefine success without the pressures and biases of the external world. Listen to your inner voice. Have the courage to follow it. Give yourself and your dreams a chance. Measure it by inner contentment and fulfillment rather than external paraphernalia.

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

Look around you and identify people who uphold their joy no matter what life throws at them. Take some time to interact and learn from them. Understand what works for them. You may consider taking a leaf out of their book, if it resonates with you.

The deeper answer, of course, lies within. Meditation is a great way to tap into the inner voice. My understanding of success shifted significantly after meeting Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, who has been my guiding force and also the inspiration behind Winked!

At Winked! we unpack some of these tough questions that face us as adults and offer a safe space to dive in and grow and learn together as a community.

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.

One person who does come to mind is Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex. He has rewritten and redefined success for himself. He went against the grind, deviated from the norm, to chart his own path. He has also been very open about the importance of addressing mental health and wellbeing.

Among fictional characters, Ted Lasso takes the cake! His ability to disarm people and meet them where they are along with his knack to take on life with wit and humor is unbeatable. We could all take a moment to channel our inner Ted Lasso as we move through adulting!

How can our readers further follow your work online?

You can download the Winked! App here: https://app.adjust.com/rvme986

You can find more about Winked! at: www.justwinked.com

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