Here’s What Success at Work Looks Like During Difficult Times

Summary: How do you stay true to your core values when everything is out of focus?

Dear Dr. Sylvia,

How do you ever know when enough is enough? I mean, enough in every sense of the word.

For example, when is there enough money in the bank? Or when there is enough food in the pantry?

In other words, how many cars, shirts, shoes, and vacations are enough?

To clarify my concerns, the present dilemma is that the CEO of my company is striving for a “more successful” year.

She demands that we align around her dream of millions of “pennies” (change that to dollars) from heaven flowing into the business account.

Success at work has constant ups and downs.

As a senior VP, I can sense the resentment building from everyone.

The fact is, we are doing quite well. This year is stellar, and we will all get excellent bonuses.

That is to say; everyone is asking each other, “what is enough?”

Unfortunately, no one is asking this question to the CEO. People are afraid to offend her.

For this reason, I was selected to be the messenger. I am the one to tell this very strong-willed woman that the troops are not happy.

Can you please help with some communication skills to get her to listen?


Enough Already

It’s time to redefine success at work to ensure employees want to stay.

Dear Enough,

What you wrote brought to mind a quirky musical first on Broadway, then a film that made the rounds decades ago called “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.”

A window cleaner dreaming about making it big in the business world finds a copy of a book about success. He applies the book’s tactics to his life and begins to climb the corporate ladder.

The hero knew he had “made it” when he got the key to the executive washroom.

That is one way to define success!

We define success in terms of dollars and possessions.

Most importantly, he felt like he had made it based on what he learned was important—little time spent looking at what, in fact, really matters past the obvious.

For instance, the pattern of success handed to him from prior generations is that money is the key to success.

Then decades later, there is the film “Wall Street,” where money is still the key to success.

Yet now, the new hero is not naïve, merely ruthless. Lie, cheat, marry the boss’s daughter, marry the boss, get the money. It doesn’t matter how you get it, so long as you get it. Ethics be damned.

Even more recently, the Netflix series, Succession gives another perspective on money and what matters. Power, politics, and money play their part in this provocative series about a highly dysfunctional dynasty.

Here you see the pattern of money as the measure of success being handed from generation to generation with little discussion or redefinition.

How long can the definition of success have money as its bottom line?  

As I research what constitutes success at work, it still reverberates around the dollar bottom line.

For example, when I listen to successful business leaders, there is always a pause in the discussion. They “humbly” talk about what they have accumulated and earned.

Of course, they talk about their hard work to build their wealth, and there is always a list of the goodies they have accumulated. It still seems that while more is good, much more is even better.

And yet, basic biology and physics tell us that too much of anything eventually becomes toxic. Too much oxygen can cause brain damage. Too much water, and you can drown.

Now, I do not propose that we all become like Mother Theresa. I suggest that we talk with each other in more depth about this elusive and mysterious concept called success.

Above all, it means asking ourselves and sharing what makes our lives worthwhile with those who matter most to us. In other words, what matters to us in our lives.

Indeed, there are as many definitions of success as folks walking on this planet.

Money alone does not guarantee a successful life.

Being alone does not make for a wealthy and successful life. As an illustration, some redefine success after life has thrown them a curve ball. This change of perspective often occurs when illness enters unexpectedly, or a relationship begins to unravel.

Recently the riveting Johnny Depp-Amber Heard saga has been on national television. Why? Partly because all the money and fame in the world did not help this couple find joy in their marriage.

For argument’s sake, I believe we are all looking for the elixir to make us happy and feel successful.

Thus, we like to consider how the top one percent navigate life. For instance, they have all the tools to build a remarkable life. Maybe we can learn from their challenges and their mistakes.

It is imperative to consider the meaning of success at this time of year. It is now that recent high school and college graduates look to their future.

Unsurprisingly, the word success is sprinkled in many official graduation speeches. As I read and listened, I am still amazed that success is still heavily defined by life’s material aspects.

Now is the time to consider people and the planet above profits for a new definition of success.

In conclusion, there is a need for a worldwide think tank to discuss the various aspects of success and living a life of health and wealth.

Success is mostly about deep and caring relationships that help you grow and those you also help to grow.

My staff and I would love to gather your success stories and how you have come to your unique purpose.

Ultimately, we would like to invite you to join us to become pattern pioneers.

By reshaping our mindsets about what brings joy to the world, I believe we can reset the intense notion that more is always better.

Let’s give ourselves and the next generations a more robust definition of success.

As a celebration of having you as part of the “pattern pioneers,” those who can observe past patterns, understand them, and transform them into what is more effective) we want to compile a book of short stories about what success means to you. Let’s begin to make success at work a fuller, more gratifying experience for us now and future generations.

Don’t hesitate to contact me at for more information. And rest assured, you do not have to use your name unless you prefer that we do. Also, there is no charge for having your success story in the book. And you can offer the e-book free to anyone you choose.

With deep appreciation,


PS. Please consider reading my book “ Don’t Bring It To Work ” for more information about how behavior patterns from family and culture pass from generation to generation.  

Creative Energy Options

Sylvia Lafair

Creative Energy Options