The Four Pillars of Success
Jeffrey Gitterman is an award winning financial planner and the founder and CEO of
Gitterman & Associates Wealth Management, LLC. www.gawmllc.com. In these challenging economic times, Jeff recently co-founded Beyond Success, www.beyondsuccessconsulting.com, a consulting firm that brings more holistic values to the world of business and finance. His first book, Beyond Success: Redefining the Meaning of Prosperity, was recently published by AMACOM, the publishing house of the American Management Association.
Over the past several years, Jeff has been featured and interviewed in several national and local print, TV, and radio programs, including Money, CNN, Financial Advisor, New Jersey Business Journal and News 12 New Jersey. In 2004, he was honored by Fortune Small Business Magazine as One of Our Nation’s Best Bosses. He also serves as chairman of the advisory board to the Autism Center of New Jersey Medical School, an organization that raises significant monies each year for autism research and support services.
I recently read an article about Max Planck, who won a Nobel Prize for his work with atoms. After years of study and research, Planck eventually said that he could only know one thing–that some invisible force holds together energy to create this minute solar system, and he must assume, based on his research, that some higher intelligence is behind this force.
I was born with some understanding that the world was made of energy. I didn’t buy the story that kept showing up in front of me, whether it was my parent’s story, my schoolteacher’s stories, or the stories in the news. I just didn’t buy it. I saw the world as energy. And I actually saw that the only thing that was really important was the joint flow between human beings and how that energy was working and processing.
And what I saw in the eyes of everybody I looked at as a kid, until I got older and met some people with wisdom, were people who were looking to take energy from others. The reason for that, I thought, was that most people felt a big void within themselves. I love the fact that the word “a-void” means to turn away from something. We all spend our lives avoiding the void. And in truth, the void is us. It’s us at our purest essence. It’s us in the silence; it’s us in the quiet. That was something I kind of lived in; I lived in the void. But then I’d come out and see these people who were miserable, wanting and lacking. They weren’t producing anything in their lives; they couldn’t get enough money, they couldn’t get enough of anything no matter how much they stole, borrowed or tried. They couldn’t get enough into their lives.
I also recently learned that the root word for money in the Hebrew language is flow. That really blew me away, because it was something that I’d thought for much of my life. There is nothing you can do to create money because money is just a flow, and it’s the flow of energy that is the root of capitalism. Capitalism and money in and of themselves are just neutral. There is no inherent action to either of them.
There is nothing we can do to create energy either, as the only thing we can really do with the flow of energy is allow or block it from coming into our lives. When I talk about energy, I often use the metaphor of a laser. While sunlight in its natural form is a source of warmth, it doesn’t have much power because it’s spread out in so many directions. But when it’s focused and concentrated through a magnifying glass, it suddenly becomes far more powerful. And when the power of light is condensed to a much greater degree, it becomes a laser that can cut through steel.
So if everything is ultimately made of energy and this energy is just kind of flittering around, what focuses that energy? Attention focuses energy. But most of us don’t have control of our attention. Most of us know what we want, but few of us know what we want to give. And our attention has to be grounded in serving based on our unique creative expression in order for it to have power. That doesn’t mean you can’t have money, but I can show you plenty of people that are miserable and have more money than they know what to do with. So for us as a society, the measure of money as success is really our own fault.
I’m going to bring this back. Some people have intentions that serve the world, and others don’t. Then there is everyone else. And what happens to our energy if we have no vision for ourselves? We get swallowed up into people around us whose intention is stronger than ours.
Marianne Williamson, although it is often credited to Nelson Mandela, has a quote in her book, A Return to Love, that talks about the fact that we all play too small. On an energetic level, when we play too small, we give our energy to others around us who want it. And believe me, people want it, because they’re trying to accomplish things. It’s just happening at an energetic level where we’re not seeing it. So we follow along while someone else has a vision of the world that doesn’t suit ours, whether it’s people on Wall Street, in the government, or whatever. And if we’re just witnesses, we fall in blindly and give up our intention to the people that have a vision for the future that they want.
At the surface level, we can’t see this going on, but on an energetic level it’s happening. And that’s why so many of us feel drained and filled with void. Because we literally have had the energy sucked away from us so someone else can realize their vision and goal.
My financial service company is based around a model I’ve been teaching for several years called the Four Pillars of Success. These pillars are relatively simple, but if practiced with sincerity can have dramatic results.
PILLAR ONE is that we have to have some practice rooted in silence. I don’t care what it is. I stand for all religions and spiritual practices: whatever it is that allows you to get in touch with your Source. Because in my mind and on an energetic level, it’s almost like we’re an electrical appliance, or a hybrid car; one of the old ones that you had to plug in. At some point in the day we’ve got to plug in. I recommend at least 5 to 15 minutes every day. I don’t care if it’s sitting in the shower if that’s the only place you can find any quiet, because that’s actually where I get mine. Fifteen minutes every morning in the shower with the water running, in the quiet, because I have an autistic child that starts talking at 6 AM when he wakes up and doesn’t stop until 10 PM when he goes to sleep, and that’s about the only 15 minutes of silence I can find. So we have to have a practice rooted in silence, and from a scientific measure, we’re just recharging our energy. Otherwise we go out in the world and have nothing to share.
PILLAR TWO is that we have to have an idea of what our unique creative expression is in the world: i.e. what each of us feels we have been placed on this earth to do. And it doesn’t have to be right. Because as Norman Schwarzkopf once said in a seminar I saw him give, was that the worst thing he saw in the army was that no one was making any decisions. The only way to know that anything is right is to make a decision, and if it’s wrong, correct it. I would say the same thing for individuals, because most of us spend our entire lifetime waiting for someone to tell us what our unique expression is, or kind of knowing what it is but waiting for someone to come and reinforce it. So pick something, literally, that you sense is your unique expression, and seek to build a life around it that offers something to the world.
PILLAR THREE is that you have to have a forward vision, three to five years out, of what your unique creative expression looks like in the world. The way I teach people to do this is to have a two to three minute movie that you can play in your head all day long, especially as you go to bed at night. A two-minute movie of you and what a day in the life of you looks like: the house you live in, the car you drive, where and what you do at work. Are you singing to an audience? Are you the best plumber in the world? Are you the best insurance salesman, doctor, accountant or basketball player? What does that vision look like three to five years out in a perfect day in the life of you? And then give it up to the universe because in all likelihood that vision, while it may come true, will find reasons to change and grow as you make it bigger and better. We need to give our energy a direction to move in. It’s critical that we do that. Otherwise, we flounder. It’s like getting in our car without a navigation system and driving around with no idea where we’re going.
PILLAR FOUR is that what we do has to be grounded in service. There is nothing to get. If I can leave you with any message, it’s that. There is nothing to get. There’s no money to get; no love to get; no sex to get; no happiness to get. There’s nothing to get that isn’t already in us. The world shows up and reflects what we are. If we have lack in our life, it’s because we’re holding on to lack within ourselves. If we’re seeing things we don’t like, it’s because we’re seeing things within ourselves that we don’t like. There is nothing outside in the world that we could possibly get that could fulfill us except to fulfill our own dreams of who we are.
So what is success? If I had to give a definition, I would say success is to be aligned with our unique creative expression in service to the world as much as possible. I’m going to say that one more time. To be successful is to be aligned with our unique creative expression as much as possible in service to the world.
I used to have a radio show called Beyond Success: Redefining the Meaning of Prosperity, where I talked to many people who in my mind were successful, and those were mostly people who got to do what they loved to do all the time. That could be a ski bum who skis 300 days a year and manages to do that on a 20,000 dollar a year job in a ski shop in the off season. Or it could be someone like William McDonough and Michael Braungart, who wrote “Cradle to Cradle,” a phenomenal book about how to create products that have no waste. In the book they talk about a guy who created a wrapper that disintegrates and leaves plant seeds in the soil when you throw it on the ground. It’s being marketed in India right now. They also talk about another guy who created the seats in the new double-decker airbus airplane that are 100 percent edible. There’s no carcinogenic runoff at all and they could literally be digested without doing any harm. Not that you would want to eat the seats, but they were created because of the runoff that is currently in most of the plastics in cars and airplanes.
There are two other things that I really like to think about. One is the computer and the other is the Internet. I have no real knowledge of how either of these work, but I think everything that’s showing up is a forerunner for what’s going to happen to human consciousness in the future.
There is a book out at the moment called “Consciousness” by mathematician Norbert Wiener that talks about this very phenomenon. At one point you had a hard drive sitting on your desk and that was it. There was no communication with the outside world. That’s how individuals mostly still operate today, ego based minds where at some level, there might be a universe out there that we’re all connected to, but there’s no real communication between individuals and that universe. Wiener goes on to say that the internet is a forerunner for what consciousness is going to look like some time in the future, where we will all literally be connected through a neruo-net, and the internet is showing us the way for how that is going to happen.
We’re obviously not there yet and I’m not saying we shouldn’t get out there and vote, or speak out against things that aren’t appropriate, but if we’re not aligned with our unique creative expression and bringing that to the world in service, then we’re not transforming the world. The world again is literally a reflection of us, and if we don’t know what we’re doing, and feel filled with void and lack, is it any wonder that the world shows up like that as a reflection? It is my hope that these ideas will leave you thinking about you, what you’re doing here and how you’re aligned with your energy. It’s my sincere belief that this is what will truly change the world.
For more information about Beyond Success Consulting and Jeffrey Gitterman please see:
Beyond Success Consulting Gitterman & Associates
Adapted from Beyond Success: Redefining the Meaning of Prosperity
Jeffrey L. Gitterman
© 2009 Jeffrey L. Gitterman
All rights reserved.
Published by AMACOM Books
A Division of the American Management Association