I've read my fair share of self-help books and regardless of the topic usually find some nugget of wisdom to reflect upon. But the most inspiring of late may very well be Jessica Herrin's recently released "Find Your Extraordinary: Dream Bigger, Live Happier, and Achieve Success on Your Own Terms." While I won't give away all her messages, here are a few points that may resonate with anyone aspiring to live a stellar life.
1. Authenticity leads to true success.
While many believe success involves lots of money and possessions, Herrin says that's not it, at all. Rather, truly victorious individuals live their lives in alignment with their values. To identify yours, she suggests asking questions such as:
- What makes you happy?
- Who are the people you love so much their joy is your own? (These are the only few you should be trying to impress.)
- What do you want your impact on the world to be?
- What goals really mean something to you?
- Are you meaningfully connected to what you're doing?
"Happiness doesn't come from success," she writes. "It is success, because if you're happy, then you've succeeded--in the most extraordinary way."
2. Success has many different starts.
Herrin, now founder and CEO of the Stella & Dot family of brands through which over 50,000 business owners have collectively earned more than $300 million since 2007, attended community college after high school instead of a typical four-year university. A straight-A student who waited tables to pay for classes, her intention was to transfer to Stanford. It was a goal her guidance counselor promptly tried to squash, telling her no one ever transferred from a junior college to the prestigious university. Herrin proved her wrong and graduated from Stanford a few years later.
3. Take a look at your younger self to see your potential.
She suggests this exercise: Find a photo of yourself as a child around the age of 5. Chances are, you'll see things like joy, curiosity and excitement in your young face. Likely you will not see the doubt and negative self-talk many adults allow to roll around in their minds. "It was amazing how many mean things I had said to this girl between then and now," she writes. "Yet in looking at this photograph, all the flaws I think of myself as having suddenly disappeared. When I looked at the essence of this little kid, I saw no evidence of those 'less than' qualities I used to believe were my core traits... I saw a little person who could do anything."
4. Impress yourself first and then only a few important people in the center of your life.
Beyond yourself, it should only be a small circle of people whose opinions matter to you--perhaps your partner or spouse and children. People spend so much time worrying what others think, but seeking outward validation from people who ultimately don't care that much is a waste of time and energy.
5. Talk to your wise future self.
Herrin asks readers to visualize themselves floating on a river boat watching the milestones of their lives pass by on the shoreline. Imagine this is you, and after seeing the years pass before your eyes you finally disembark at a lovely home where you are greeted by your future self--an older and wiser you. This is your opportunity to ask this person what different choices you would make if you could go back. Or, in the grand scheme of things, what matters most? What was your greatest achievement?
"When something small or short-term is weighing me down, I ask my future self if she cares about this at all," she writes. "Turns out, she actually cares about a pretty narrow set of things! Family, love, friendship, and impact. If she's not overly worried about a short term-term situation, why should I be?"