Success during the pandemic involves learning and growing to full capacity, without limitation. I am constantly watching marketing courses, hiring coaches, and reading sports and trading performance psychology books. The pandemic frees up time for valuable professional development. The gains made today can pay dividends tomorrow.

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 Susanne Cardwell.

Susanne Cardwell is the Marketing Director at a Calgarian-based engineering firm. She strives for a highly disciplined work ethic and centers her extracurricular activities around enhancing work performance. With a growth mindset and a passion for lifelong learning, she finds a tranquility when working or learning.

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 life was most shaped when I met a spiritual mentor. He guided me through some hardships I was encountering, sharing with me his wisdom. When he taught me how to pray and brought me to spirituality, my struggles quickly abated. When he guided me to achieve a graduate degree, doors opened. Since then, I’ve experienced many good fortunes.

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

During my undergrad, I discovered I excelled at mathematics. I was consistently the top performer in every math class but one, and even scored a perfect final grade in an advanced math class. Yet, math became more than a pursuit; it became an obsession. I later learned that obsessive attachment can compel a person to become over-elated with the wins, but crushed with the losses.

I also used to believe that success was the elevation of the ego through some gain, whether it be of fortune, fame, or power. The ego is a fickle animal and doesn’t provide the conditions for true joy. Instead, it’s the success that comes from lighting up another being’s world that brings profound value.

Another wrong belief I held was that my needs were most important. I spent a year in elementary school indoctrinated by a cartoon series that stated, “The most important person in the world is you.” That claim couldn’t be further from the truth. The most important person in the world is every single being we encounter, for we have the ability to give hope, love, friendship, and encouragement. We have the ability to be a light in the dark. And when that light glows, we benefit, too. It’s that giving that elevates us to a status of, not importance, but dignity.

How has your definition of success changed?

I came to learn that success was beyond the material realm. Success exists in realizing the true nature of ourselves, which I believe is love. Caring for others unconditionally is the biggest means I’ve yet encountered for realizing success. When unconditional love is given, everything else just falls in place.

In my role as Marketing Director, I believe that a depth of love needs to be applied to my career. Feeling a passion for my work, a loyalty to the company, and a deep-embedded desire to serve cements a success that is karmic — it comes back to me. The act of giving selflessly is a success on its own.

If every moment of my life was a labor of selfless love, I would realize true success. Moreover, if every moment was spent in happiness, regardless of outer circumstances, that that too would be the achievement of meaningful 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?

To be successful post pandemic, we need a reopening of the economy. In particular, Western economies are in dire need of pro-business policies — policies that attract investment, encourage risk-taking, create jobs, raise real incomes, increase productivity, and improve the standard of living for everyone.

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

Remote work has been my biggest boon during the COVID pandemic. Working remotely enables me to invest at least three additional hours of clocked work each day. Plus, remote work bolsters my ability to focus exclusively on tasks. As a side benefit, the pandemic enables me to bypass the drain of professional-attire shopping and expensive grooming rituals. I can invest my time and earnings on professional skills development instead.

Bypassing the daily commute is perhaps the biggest treasure of the pandemic. The expense, the time, the hassle, and terrible road conditions are no longer worries. I remember once facing such bad road conditions that cars and busses stopped running. That night, I read that several people died from being stranded overnight in the cold. Working remotely during the pandemic removes such harrowing worries.

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.)

Success during the pandemic involves learning and growing to full capacity, without limitation. I am constantly watching marketing courses, hiring coaches, and reading sports and trading performance psychology books. The pandemic frees up time for valuable professional development. The gains made today can pay dividends tomorrow.

Success can also mean making time for personal development, particularly on a spiritual level. My work relationships benefit greatly from the gains I make from following spiritual tenets, whether they be from Christianity, Buddhist, Sikhism, Hinduism, or any other religious or spiritual context. Forgiveness, love, and other universal principals always seem to manifest in better rapport.

Helping out others impacted by the pandemic is another way to redefine success. Helping out someone who isn’t employed or who is housebound can provide a great deal of positivity. Even spending time outdoors feeding the birds or tending to flowers fosters nurturing. The pandemic provides reasons to give selflessly. Selflessness is an immeasurable sign of success.

Being able to find joy in every moment is also success redefined. I recently told my hairdresser that I aim to be happy no matter the outer circumstances. Even if a bomb exploded, I told her, I would want to maintain a happy state of mind. The tragedies of the pandemic can strengthen a person’s ability to control the mind in the pursuit of happiness. Controlling the mind under duress is like strengthening a muscle: the more one engages in strenuous activity, the better the gains. After all, happiness is not conditional; it is a choice.

The pandemic has redefined success for my career, too. For me, my career has evolved into a labor of love. It is just me and my work at the desk, like two childhood friends. Working at my desk is like entry into a flow state. I am very aware that the more I invest in my career, the better I become.

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

Success is the ability to feel joy during troubling times. Success is the ability to love during isolation. Success is the ability to feel wealthy when we are without. If we changed our definition of success to evolve around finding happiness in the good times and the bad, we’d gain the most riches. Wealth is not money; it’s spirit.

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 that stands in our way of our redefined success is lack of wisdom. Happiness can be achieved regardless of circumstances, but wisdom is the biggest helper to that end. Wisdom can be found in spiritual texts, in self-help books, in self-reflection, and most of all, in unconditional love.

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

I look at sports and trading performance psychology books. I read spiritual texts and self-help books. I also do a lot of self-reflection. My favorite resource for self-development is The Marriage Foundation, which stretches a person’s ability to love unconditionally until it reaches the point of overwhelming love. The creator of The Marriage Foundation has found the rules and wisdom to love another being unconditionally. He lives his truth which makes itself evident whenever he speaks of his ever-growing love for his wife. That love is what I hope to offer my loved ones. That love is what I also hope to extend to every living entity, whether it be a person, a bird, or a flower.

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.

If I could have a private breakfast or lunch with anyone, it would be with my partner. He is the kind of charismatic person who attracts crowds wherever he goes. He has this charm with everyone, whether people or animals. Wild rabbits run circles around his feet. Magpies attempt to communicate with him, thanking him for the treats he brings. Some magpies can speak English words, although we haven’t encountered that yet.

He is also the kind of person people seek out as a mentor, a political advisor, and a source of encouragement.

If I could have lunch with one person, it would be with him.

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