In our second “Best Of 2022” episode, we look at what it means to “redefine success.” This set of year-end dialogues, specially curated by Robert Strock, shows how his distinguished and inspired guests have fully expressed, in their own lives, what it means to care for oneself, one’s family, and the world. These are joyful excerpts that demonstrate how these unique individuals have integrated their life’s work and passion in a manner that provides self-fulfillment while improving the lives of those around us and the world at large.
The emphasis is intended to encourage you to look at your potential to expand in this direction no matter where you are starting from. Don’t fall into the trap of comparing yourself to anyone. The key is to look at the next steps to enable moving into greater balance in your life, to accept—right where you are—and expand your capacity to care, recognizing that your focus on caring can expand day by day. The podcast encourages us to not be in denial about the challenges of universal insecurity, those of the impoverished, or our unique personal difficulties. Our country, the world, and our most wise self—for most of us—is beckoning us to include all of this in our contemplation and to motivate us to find how we can contribute, even in the smallest of ways.
This absolutely is not meant to create a guilt trip. It is tuning into the potential fulfillment of every next step and opening our hearts to see where we “get to” through the aim of love, practicality, and authenticity. This is a refined definition of success, and the key lies in our own authentic balance to take the time to guide ourselves.
Mentioned in this episode
Mark Gerson: Mediators Foundation
Brent Kessel: Abacus Wealth Partners
Brent Kessel: Enough Project
Adam Bendell: Toniic
Jack Lampel: A. K. Rice Institute
Jack Lampel: Threshold Foundation
Cristian Cardoner: WARC Group
Cristian Cardoner: Acumen
Dr. Paul Brenner: San Diego Cancer Research Institute
Susan Hugh: Wisdom Spring
The Global Bridge Foundation
Note: Below, you’ll find timecodes for specific sections of the podcast. To get the most value out of the podcast, I encourage you to listen to the complete episode. However, there are times when you want to skip ahead or repeat a particular section. By clicking on the timecode, you’ll be able to jump to that specific section of the podcast
The Missing Conversation, Episode 75, “Best Of” Series.
On this podcast, we will propose critical new strategies to address world issues, including homelessness, immigration, amongst several others, and making a connection to how our individual psychology contributes and can help transform the dangers that we face. We will break from traditional thinking, as we look at our challenges from a freer and more independent point of view, your host Robert Strock has had 45 years of experience as a psychotherapist, author, and humanitarian, and has developed a unique approach to communication, contemplation, and inquiry born from working on his own challenges.
Robert Strock (00:44):
Welcome everyone to The Missing Conversation. This is our end-of-the year best of series. It’s a compilation of some of our favorite episodes and clips that we have pulled together in a single episode for you. We hope you enjoy what you’re about to hear. We hope these excerpts and the Best Of series inspire you to listen to our full episodes. You can find the full episodes by visiting our show notes on our firstname.lastname@example.org. On the menu bar, just click the Best Of tab and thanks so much for listening.
Our society in present times and in the past in the major power countries has defined success significantly as being financial accomplishment, wealth, intelligent use of resources for ourselves and our families. There are other aspects like being sexually attractive, powerful, but we’re not going to elaborate on those in this episode, which you’re going to hear in this episode is a redefinition of success that includes several individuals who have largely taken a different path, including those of us that are closely affiliated with The Global Bridge Foundation. It’s not an ego trip to feel that you are wonderful in this definition of success. The focus is on the joy fulfillment of taking care of yourself well and dedicating yourself to both self-care, family care, and the most important addition to care for those that are least fortunate in the world, in poverty and the planet itself, while helping respond to the challenges of global warming and other international dangers that threatens democracy in peace. This isn’t because we should do this out of a moral code, it’s because we see that it is utterly fulfilling and inspiring. The greatest success is when there is little or no sacrifice, because there’s a genuine love for mankind, and we are connected with life itself through gratitude
Mark Gerzon graduated from Harvard and has done philanthropic work with major foundations for 50 years, involving extensive political healing work, including humanitarian mediation with the United Nations and countries throughout the world.
Mark Gerzon (03:13):
I said to myself, money’s too important in my culture, so I’m gonna make it unimportant. It’s taken me a while to understand that reacting to the culture of money by joining the counterculture of anti-money wasn’t the path forward. The path forward was to have a healthy relationship to money, just like you have a healthy relationship to food and um, and healthy relationship to exercise. And I’m still in the process of losing that anti-money attitude.
Robert Strock (03:39):
I view it commonly as the most socially accepted addiction in present time and throughout history that wealth wants more wealth and therefore poverty becomes more poor.
Mark Gerzon (03:50):
I once asked a guy, you know, what would you encourage a global citizen to read? And he started listing four or five professional magazines and, and several books and I basically said, well, you’ve laid out a graduate curriculum. An ordinary person can’t go to graduate school to become a global citizen. What can an ordinary person do? And, and the scholar didn’t have much to say to me, and so I came up with four phrases, open your eyes, open your mind, open your heart, and open your hands. And ever since then, I’ve been teaching a curriculum of global citizenship and global intelligence based on those four principles.
Robert Strock (04:23):
Cristian Cardoner went from primarily being a very successful businessman to prioritizing philanthropy as a central motivation in his life.
Cristian Cardoner (04:33):
I was obsessed with the effect of lack of civilization in people in the world, and so I began to travel to places where really isolated in the world. I quit the financial sector because I felt something was out of place, I was too young and I’m not, uh, ashamed to say it too rich. And what is this? I’m a banker 33 and something wrong here.
Robert Strock (05:01):
Brent Kessel has been CEO of Abacus Wealth Partners and a philanthropist and teacher. Brent is the innovator of the Enough Project which helps people discern the difference between self-sufficiency and an endless addiction to pursue money.
Brent Kessel (05:17):
The Enough Project for me started with a lot of kind of journaling and reflection on what are the voices in me that resist this, that like, that really still want pleasure at a, at a higher level than I’ve had it or really want more security that could never be too much security. Um, and kind of grappling, you know, writing down everything they have to say and engaging them, um, along with this other voice that was emerging saying, huh, gonna die <laugh>. And, and not that you know, long from now.
Robert Strock (05:51):
Jack Lampel is a very creative past president of both the AK Rice Institute and the Threshold Foundation. Jack is reflecting on what most people go through when they’re dealing with success and what he also had to go through himself.
Jack Lampel (06:05):
I just need more and more money around me. I need more and more success in order to feel safe, and I go very quickly to feeling like the thing that we share in common, even though we’re not able to verbalize it, is the grief at where we all are right now.
Robert Strock (06:23):
Adam Bendell is CEO of “Tonic,” a group of 600 impact entrepreneurs that represent several billion dollars of innovative projects to help the planet.
Adam Bendell (06:34):
Three core principles as I understand them, right. The first one is to become aware of our tendency to externalize our challenging emotions on others and to learn to relate to challenging emotions without letting them rule our response.
Robert Strock (06:51):
Dr. Paul Brenner devoted his last several decades to bring love, empathy, and identification with cancer patients that were facing death, which displays yet another definition of success.
Dr. Paul Brenner (07:05):
I want to take the path, not of the greatest resistance, but the least resistance because I have that in my soul to follow that path and how not to die in life is to appreciate life. Life is the ultimate gift. I have a sense that we’re born with a blueprint and as a young child, we have this sense of what we would like to do with our lives, and I think we all have it. And I’m just gonna ask the audience if they could just take a second out, go back to where they live when they were young, think about what their dreams were. I think we have a blueprint, but we lose it. Every child has had that, has had a dream. So I’m just asking folks, could you just review your childhood things that happened to you that made you decide, I’m gonna do that, or I’m not going to do this.
Robert Strock (08:15):
As you’re speaking, I feel a tearfulness at the innocence and the longing that for me too, was completely natural.
Robert Strock (08:25):
There are two David White quotes that redefined success at a profound level. Here’s Brent Kessel and I reflecting on that. Are you ready to go for love, knowing for sure you’re gonna fail? Am I ready to go for my life knowing I may not succeed, knowing I may fall flat in my face, knowing I might even blow the balance, but am I ready to go for it? Am I ready to keep asking those kind of questions?
Brent Kessel (08:49):
There’s another David White quote that I love that so relates to what you just said. The soul would rather fail at its own life than succeed at someone else’s. You know, like just go for it. Go for your own soul’s vision of what life could be, and even if you fall on your face, that’s a better life and a better outcome than succeeding at someone else’s definition.
Robert Strock (09:11):
Yeah, and really, if we could instill one thing, it’s to question, how do I optimize my life? And I am the authority I get to move my life in the direction that I decide. And that doesn’t mean we’re omnipotent. It just means you, you can move your legs and your arms and your mind in whatever way that is best possible for you. The emphasis for me is on quality of life. Susan Hough is the executive director of the nonprofit Wisdom Spring, a teen leadership humanitarian development program currently serving seven high schools. Their fundraising efforts have thus far resulted in the construction of 45 water wells in Africa, in India to serve marginalized communities. She has redefined success at a very young age.
Susan Hough (10:00):
I think it’s trust. Trust inside of you is something that’s needing to come out. Trust your wisdom and your heart more and hold back gently.
Robert Strock (10:13):
It has Susan’s tearfully holding her hands open, which you can’t see holding the trust that something unique is in you is such a offering to anyone that is really responded to, inquired into in that way.
Robert Strock (10:32):
This next piece was the short invitation to 50 high schools on redefining success and helping the kids know what the conference was about.
Robert Strock (10:42):
I wanna mention briefly that there was such a rapport with us because in 2000, we did a conference called Being the Difference That Makes a Difference, and there were 250 kids that were selected if they wanted to make a difference in the world.
Robert Strock (10:59):
To you, the world has never seemed to make much sense the way it is. How could it war, violence, hatred, and greed can be found almost everywhere. People are killing people, even in schools. Something inside of you is much more sensitive than this and yearns for connection with a sense of sanity and honesty. Your hungry for friendliness, fairness, and basic trust. Remembering back as far as you can, you believed or wanted to believe that people cared about protecting each other. You believed in basic goodness. Your dreams for a world that you could trust were clear to you even when there was nothing you could do to improve anything around you. You might have been silent on the outside or even rebellious, but on the inside, this sensitivity is still what continues to make sense to you. You have the strong desire to make this a better world.
It doesn’t matter to us whether you have high intelligence, good looks, good grades, or a considered cool by your peers. What does matter is that you have this inner longing that radiates from your being and that you are looking for ways to live it more fully to you. The word leadership embraces these qualities of the heart. You want others to be included and considered. It might not show yet in your words or actions. If however, we catch you in the right moment, it dances in your eyes and your heart. Perhaps you already show these qualities to some extent in your friendships with animals in nature, in community service with your family or in the arts. If you are looking for a way to express these parts of yourself, come join us in cultivating and expanding this common yearning and sense of purpose to make your own and others’ lives the best they can be. This focus on what each of us as individuals believe is most true to ourselves is success, and each of us has that capacity if we sincerely ask the question and follow through in our own way.
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