If you aren't as successful as you'd like to be, you probably aren't as happy as you'd like to be: Success, however you choose to define it, walks hand in hand with happiness.
Bridging the gap from here, where you are today, to there, where you want to someday be? That journey can be incredibly difficult.
Especially if you find yourself stuck at zero and struggling just to find a genuinely satisfying purpose or passion.
Enter Oprah Winfrey.
But it took time, and several missteps, for her to discover the true purpose of her show -- and, by extension, the true purpose of her life.
In 1998, Oprah booked several white supremacists as guests. Her goal was to challenge their views and reveal their intolerance. She thought she would expose them, and she did -- but during the show she also realized they were using her show to get exposure that would help them recruit new members to their organizations.
She thought she was using them to advance a cause, but they were using her for the same purpose.
"After that show," Oprah says, "I went to my producers and said, 'I will never do another show like that.'"
Some weeks later, an episode of her show focused on marital infidelity. While onstage with his wife and girlfriend, the cheating husband told everyone that his girlfriend was pregnant.
"We all gasped, because I certainly didn't know what was coming," Oprah says. "I looked at his wife's face, and I'm telling you, the hurt and the shame, the humiliation I saw on her face. I have, to this day, never forgotten it. I said to my producers, 'Never again will anyone be embarrassed or shamed or humiliated on my watch.'"
Those two incidents caused Oprah to rethink her approach to the show.
"We're going to intentionally aim to be a force for good and service," she told her team, "and that question of 'How do we best serve our viewer' is behind and in front of every single booking from this day forward."
She says, "That is when the show took off. It was no longer just a hit, but became a phenomenon."
The show's success was important, but equally as important was her feeling of personal success. By any measure, hosting a hit show was "success." So was enjoying massive ratings, widespread syndication, and the resulting financial windfall.
But finding her true purpose and passion, using her platform to be of service -- that's what Oprah says made her feel satisfied. Fulfilled. And truly successful.
Bottom line? According to Oprah:
Don't worry about being "successful." Strive for the truest, highest expression of yourself ... and then use that expression in service to the world.
If the paradigm for which you see the world is, "How can I be of service with my talent? How can I be used in service?" then I guarantee you, no matter what your talent or offering, you will be successful.
Instead of only defining success by certain finish lines -- numbers, job titles, houses or cars, or a level of public profile -- factor into your definition of success whether you get to do work that, even if only occasionally, lets you feel you made a genuine difference in the lives of other people.
Because that's the one form of success that never gets old.
And can never be taken away from you.