Real success isn't about amassing large amounts of wealth and possessions. There are countless people in the world that have achieved professional greatness but have a misguided purpose and significant dysfunctional in their lives. Some of the happiest people I have ever met literally have nothing. Or do they? They have faith, family and a deep appreciation for the people and world surrounding them.

My last tour as a Navy SEAL was in Africa. A fisherman and his young son lived in a small hut near the dock where we kept our boats and jet skis. Every day the son would come down to the dock and watch fascinated as we prepared to head out. His infectious smile and zest for life was energizing. Before re-deploying home, I gave him my Casio G-Shock watch. His reaction was one I will never forget.

Truly successful people first find happiness and a passion for life and their work. They find a way to live a balanced life that has a positive impact on those around them.

So what is the one reason truly successful people are happier than most? It's because at some point in their lives they find the courage to take decisive action. To purge negativity and all the things distracting them from doing what they know they need to do to be happy. The same applies while ensuring that employees are happy and motivated. In a discussion I had with my colleague David Moff, Managing Consultant at JER HR Group, he said, "There is no simple answer.  It all depends on the make up of the team and its personality.  In general, the best way to motivate the team is to show a deep sense of gratitude and thanks for the efforts and work that the team does.  Don't micromanage, set the parameters and the expectations and let them run."

Last week I had the honor of being the keynote speaker at The North Face 2016 Global Athletes Summit in beautiful Moab, UT. One of the other speakers who works closely with the athletes was Dr. Allen Lim, a sports physiologist, cycling coach, and a founder of Skratch Labs.

He told a great story that emphasizes this exact point. We all generally know what we need to do to be happier, healthier and more successful. We just often fail to take action. During SEAL training the instructors articulate a similar message. They would tell us that winning is a conscious decision. That we simply needed to make up our minds whether we wanted to pass or fail.

Dr. Lim works with professional athletes in helping them reach and maintain peak performance. He evangelizes a three-pronged approach that includes recovery, nutrition, and training. His philosophy on nutrition is quite simple. He gives the athlete and piece of paper. On one side, he has them write down all the foods they eat that makes them feel like crap. On the other side, they write down the foods that make them feel great. He them reviews the notes, thoughtfully hemming and hawing while frequently nodding and overusing the word, "interesting." All the while, the athlete sits there in anticipation of what astounding feedback they will receive.

He then turns to the side of the paper with all the foods that make them feel great and writes at the top, "Keep eating this stuff." On the other side of the sheet he writes at the top, "Stop eating this #&%$!"

It's that simple! We all know what we need to do rid our lives of things that distract us from greatness. The things that cause stress, fatigue, personal and financial strain. So why do we take so long to make those changes? What are we scared of?

It's like staying in a bad relationship because you are scared of the unknown. But when you finally make the decision to cut ties, what happens? You wonder why in the hell you didn't break it off a long time ago. You reflect on the time wasted that could have been spent on other positive things.

My challenge to you is this. Take a sheet of paper and write down the top three things you wish you had more time and energy to pursue. On the other side, write down the top three things you need to expel from your life.

Then all you have to do is take action!

Published on: Oct 31, 2016
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.