Success: Eleven in 2011

by Lance Ekum on · 62 comments

Electric Kool Aid
Creative Commons License photo credit: Marty.FM

"There is only one success – to be able to spend your life in your own way." ~ Christopher Morley

What is success anyway? 

How do YOU define it?

Perhaps we'll hear of someone who has "hit it big", who has all the toys, who lives in the biggest house, who…

Perhaps that is you.  Your neighbor.  The guy driving down the street.  The woman commuting an hour to work everyday.  The kid volunteering at the food pantry.  The retiree who just won the lottery. 

Is there something deeper, though, that makes this life we are living more meaningful?  Is there something else there, adding depth to our years?

I believe, very much, that this concept of a deeper success is way more than what we can see on the outside looking in.

In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson:

“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children … to leave the world a better place … to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.  This is to have succeeded.”

Success and meaning in life, something really much deeper than what we see in terms of things, accomplishments, and position. Success, true success, is something that comes from within. 

Comes from HOW we are living are lives.  Comes from WHY we do what we do.  When we connect more deeply with these how's and why's, we reach success at a much more meaningful level.


Success and Deeper Meaning in this Life:

With that, I give you eleven individuals who I believe exemplify what success is truly all about.  Read below as they share their pearls of wisdom on success and meaning on this life journey.

Holly Latty-Mann:
As I evolve on this journey, so does my definition of success.  Success is no longer creating a life void of misfortune or pain, as those are the very elements that create the fiber from which deep, meaningful success is spawned.  Success is therefore managing with grace and dignity whatever misfortune befalls me. And the other half of what gives deep meaning to my sense of success is that feeling of peaceful joy as I celebrate daily the hundreds of things that do go right in my world.  With gratitude and grace, everything else falls into place.


Scott Stratten:
Success to me is being able to support my family and myself. And when I say support, that doesn't mean just financially, but emotionally as well.  One can usually cloud the other.


Patience Salgado:
I so often want to define or attach success to big individual accomplishments, but I'm learning more and more everyday that true success lies in a million small acts that together reveal a whole life, a whole passion, a whole heart. For me, this makes the everyday so much more meaningful, knowing that each small act of kindness, love, truth, or courage really do matter. In these acts of connecting and moving with this intent through the world, we push beyond ourselves and into creating something so much bigger, success for us all.  


Daniel Pink:
Success, to me at least, is leaving the world (and your own little patch of that world) a little better than you found it. If people are somehow better off — materially, intellectually, spiritually — because of your presence, that's pretty good.


Rachel Denning:
Success is not a big home, a large income, and all the 'stuff' that's involved in the peacock pageant. Success comes from quietly and confidently living on purpose, moving toward your dreams, and living simply within your means. It's the feeling you get when you're living right.


Kerry Taylor:
Success is an organic apple in one hand, and a tool sharp enough to share the fruit with others without fear of bleeding.


Chris Guillebeau:
Success is continuous improvement of circumstances and meaningful adventure.


Maren Kate:
Success is almost an ethereal "I've arrived" feeling – not 100% how to describe it but I know I'll know it when it comes.  The deepest meaning I get from following the entrepreneur's path is the feeling of going against the grain and building something I can be proud of.


Seth Godin:
I think you're successful once you create work that matters, something that was frightening to create and powerful to behold.


Chris Brogan:
Success means improving every element of my life (family, work, fitness, wealth) a little bit every day and being able to smile more each time I see the results of my efforts.


Liz Strauss:
On this journey, I get deep meaning from connecting with people where they live — in their heads, in their hearts, and in the way they view the world. Every person brings me something I didn't know and would have learned without that particular connection. If I listen with who I am I often find they reveal truth and trust that shines brilliantly and that inspires me to live better, be better, and bring my best game to the world.

While everyone who shared here has words that are slightly different, there is one over-riding theme.  Success and meaning in this life are very personal and so much more than any physical things we might obtain.  Success is truly in living this thing called life.

To each of you:  thank you for the gifts you bring to this world, for the connection you create from a place of authenticity, and for your being here to add meaning and depth with your thoughts.


For me, I find deep personal meaning in this life from living in a place that connects my heart and soul outward.  When I do this, when I'm aligned with my own internal compass – I succeed.  When I come from this place, when I form connections at a deeper level – I succeed.  When I love…I succeed…

And you do, too.  You do, when you listen to that voice within and move more fully toward your own true peak.

What is success, anyway?

How do YOU define it?

Coming next week!  Many updates to the Jungle of Life website, and the release of the e-book with the same name as this site:  Jungle of Life | a journey toward your true peak.

Enter your name and email address in the sidebar to receive the e-book as soon as it is released. 

Jungle 2.0…the journey continues…

Lance writes stories from his heart, aiming to inspire and motivate, as you align more fully with YOUR true peak. When he's not here, you can find him hanging out with his family, riding a bike, or just generally acting goofy.   Sign up for the Thoughts from the Treehouse newsletter and get additional inspiration in your email inbox!
Lance Ekum
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{ 61 comments… read them below or add one }

Dave January 25, 2011 at 4:21 am

Lance, this is great. There are people here that I haven’t heard of, so thanks for the introduction.

Success to me would be to get somewhere near meeting my true potential, and in doing so provide a secure future for my family. If I can do that doing something I love, all the better!!

Dave´s Last Fabulous Post ..I like a good tweak How about youMy Profile


Lance January 26, 2011 at 5:22 am

True potential coupled with something that really speaks from your heart….what a great place to live from!

Keep rockin’, my friend!! All of this…it is within you!!


Keith January 25, 2011 at 4:48 am


I resonate with your message here. Money is simply a tool and not the barometer of success.

Thank you for sharing these individuals. Some I knew, others I did not. I’ll definitely check them all out.

I look forward to seeing the changes you’ll implement here. Knowing you, I know it’s going to be a fun and meaningful journey.

Peace my friend


Lance January 26, 2011 at 5:26 am

While money is something that helps us sustain a lifestyle, there is so much more to what makes this life experience one that is truly lived.

So, here’s to having that experience of really being alive in this life of ours. And coated in love, life is wonderful…


Adrenalynn January 25, 2011 at 5:01 am

Thank you for sharing! I believe this is what we’re all searching for, something deeper, something more, something meaningful. And even if we do find that something that fills it all with purpose, we’re still on that journey. Have a wonderful week, Lance, I can’t wait to see what you have in store! I’m cheering you on 🙂
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Lance January 26, 2011 at 5:28 am

…the journey that is an ever-evolving one…our life journey, our moving toward our very own true peak.

I AM having a wonderful week!! And it is because I’m seeing you here!! (and thank YOU for the cheers!!)

Keep shining your awesome!!


Julie Ellis January 25, 2011 at 7:19 am

Success to me is knowing in my heart that I made a difference to someone. It doesn’t always have to be something grand. Most times it’s the little things we say or do that mean the most to someone. It is {LOVE} that brings depth & meaning in our lives.

In this painting…there is something deeper under all the spattered colors…there is a flower!
I believe we each hold something deep inside and we need to share it with those we meet along the way!

Lance, thanks for sharing your wisdom today, and I have much to read & learn through all the other individuals you have introduced.

{Love & a smile}


Lance January 26, 2011 at 5:31 am

…and I want you to know that you ARE successful. You are, because you have made such a beautiful difference to me. I am blessed to know you. And it is in those moments when I know…I know you care. Julie, that is such a wonderful gift you give to me.

So, so much love to you, dear friend…


Michele Welch January 25, 2011 at 7:37 am

Hi Lance,

First just let me say, awesome job with the post! I follow many of these people and it’s great to read up on how they define success!

So how do I define it? Tough question; as you can see it means something different to everyone and there’s no right or wrong answer.

But in my little world ;-), I define it as getting to a place in your life where you have found peace: in work and personal. Tough journey as most human beings have a difficult time finding contentment with where they are at now.

It’s a journey for sure …

Thanks again. 🙂
Michele Welch´s Last Fabulous Post ..A Pallet of Blogging Tools I Can’t Do Without – What About YouMy Profile


Lance January 26, 2011 at 5:34 am

Hi!! It’s GREAT to have you here!!

The “success question” is most definitely not a multiple choice question!! Peace. Michele, that’s a beautiful view of success.

And this journey we are on, it is one that continues to evolve and change just as we do along the way. May you continue to grow more deeply connected to that peace that comes from within…


Naomi Estment January 25, 2011 at 8:37 am

Love this – thank you, Lance! Also, CONGRATS on creating an ebook… I’m looking forward to even more inspiration!!
Naomi Estment´s Last Fabulous Post ..A gift that keeps on giving…My Profile


Lance January 26, 2011 at 5:35 am

Thanks!! And…the e-book is almost finished!! Yay!!!


Hilary January 25, 2011 at 9:12 am

Hi Lance .. great post and thanks for the intro to you Eleven .. some of whom I don’t know – so they’ll be good to investigate further ..

Success is balance, patience, security and love in our heart … definitely not loads a dosh! Just some ..

Cheers and a very happy 2011 … sounds as though that path is there with you .. Hilary
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Lance January 26, 2011 at 5:36 am

…and may you continue to feel that balance, patience, security and love….success….beautiful success…

Happy 2011!!


Chris January 25, 2011 at 9:18 am

I’m with ya. You’re preachin’ good, Lance! Don’t stop! Seriously, I reaffirmed my goals for 2011, and underscored all of them [personal, family, writing, etc…] with the following affirmation paragraph: “Know there is time for all of the goals. These are for joy, personal fulfillment and growth. Positive things will result from peaceful focus, dedication to good and healthy habits, and loving my husband, children, family and friends. Life IS good and I AM blessed.”
Chris´s Last Fabulous Post ..SickMy Profile


Lance January 26, 2011 at 5:38 am

Ha!! Okay, I’ll keep at it!!

And what a wonderful affirmation! Beautiful success indeed….


Evita January 25, 2011 at 9:22 am

Hi Lance

What a wonderful way to showcase that above all, the meaning of success is such a personal aspect. What one person sees as success, may not be, and normally isn’t what another says. The answers from all of the people you featured are fantastic and so diverse! I think I resonated most with Rachel’s definition, but who could resist Kerry’s organic apple 😉

To me success means having a sense of deep inner peace and living life with purpose. Success is also realizing our personal divinity, knowing that everything we want, we already have.


Lance January 26, 2011 at 5:43 am

Success IS personal…exactly!

And – from organic apples to quietly living your dreams…the answers above are most definitely personal (and meaningful).

I LOVE what you have shared on success, Evita. And it rings so true to what I see in you…which is just so beautiful – to see that what you define as success is what I see outwardly projected from you…


Tess The Bold Life January 25, 2011 at 9:38 am

Of all people and blogs you mention above, I choose Kindness Girl as the most impressive. Love her and love her blog. She has a big heart like you. Congrats on all of your hard work and generosity over the last 3 years. It’s about that, right?
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Lance January 26, 2011 at 5:45 am

Awww…thank you!! And I have to agree, Patience has a beautifully generous and kind heart…one she shares so wonderfully in the world around her.

And – you ARE right!! It is just about three years now that this site has been here!! (wow, time flies!!)


Audra Krell January 25, 2011 at 11:00 am

Great, resourceful list. Loved seeing some old faves as well as meeting new folks. I think only a successful guy could write a post like this….congratulations!
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Lance January 26, 2011 at 5:46 am

You are way too sweet and kind to me. You REALLY are!! (thank YOU!!!!)


Lynn January 25, 2011 at 11:30 am

What a great list! True success = spreading joy in small ways, being kind to everyone and honest in all your dealings.
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Lance January 26, 2011 at 5:48 am

I love your definition of success!! And I really feel this from you.

Lynn, know that you are a gift here, and I’m honored to have you share these very meaningful words in this space…


JaneBeNimble January 25, 2011 at 12:33 pm

Hi Lance,
Amazing insights, lovely blogs, and great writing (as always!).
I LOVE this line of yours, “I find deep personal meaning in this life from living in a place that connects my heart and soul outward.”
I love that the motion is outward, toward others, this beautiful raft of humanity.
Thanks for brightening my day, Lance. Hope all is well your way.
JaneBeNimble´s Last Fabulous Post ..The Rebel Buddha in YouMy Profile


Lance January 26, 2011 at 5:50 am

I know how you have taken that love that is within your soul and shared it outwardly. Know that this is something that continues to stay with me…your beautiful soul…shining such love out to the world. That I have been the recipient of that love….this is such a beautiful and meaningful gift to me.

Thank you. Always. For being love in this world…



Jody - Fit at 53 January 25, 2011 at 2:12 pm

Very cool post Lance & I would think that success is very different for each person but for some similar.

The quote: Leave the world a better place..

I think deep down I would like to do this…. I want to succeed at things myself but more I want to help people & leave them with a better feeling of themselves & just a world that is a better place to live in.
Jody – Fit at 53´s Last Fabulous Post ..Whys of Weight Loss-Gain or No MovementMy Profile


Lance January 26, 2011 at 5:55 am

What a beautiful view of success!! If we can somehow leave this world just a little better…what a gift we are giving. And the beauty of that is that there are just an unlimited number of ways we can do that!!

Keep shining Jody!!


Amy MacLeod January 25, 2011 at 2:51 pm

Lance, your wise old soul shines through with such readiness to give to others. Thank you for this synopsis of success – likely it took a great deal of time and effort to be able to put this together. These are busy people who obviously know the priorities for living a whole-istic life.
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Lance January 26, 2011 at 5:57 am

It was truly an honor to have these wonderful folks share their thoughts on success with me. And in it all, their words each reached to my soul…each in their own unique way.

And it’s a gift to have you here in this space, too. Amy, thank you for your presence and your beautiful spirit…


Zeenat{Positive Provocations} January 25, 2011 at 3:08 pm

Lance, Love the list! Some I know and love…and some others I will have to look forward to reading and getting to know.
Thank you for sharing these awesome people!
Much Love,
Zeenat{Positive Provocations}´s Last Fabulous Post ..How to let the Ego GO and Create Harmonious RelationshipsMy Profile


Lance January 26, 2011 at 5:58 am

Always so wonderful to see you, dear friend. Much love always to you and your sweet family…


Jean Burman January 25, 2011 at 3:33 pm

Hi Lance 🙂
I love that Emerson quote. We placed it on my father’s epitaph. He was such a man as this. I miss him every day.

Yes we do need to find the deeper meaning as life unfolds for us. Humans are not designed for a shallow existence. We are each made uniquely different. All with our own talents and abilities to offer. Our obligation here on planet earth is to discover that uniqueness [what makes us different] and share it with the world. This needs to be our only modus operandi here.

So great to read about these impressive people all out there doing what they do best. I especially loved Kindness Girl and those amazing photographs! Thanks so much for sharing them here… along with [of course] your own words of unique wisdom. They always find their way home!
Best wishes
Jean x
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Lance January 26, 2011 at 6:02 am

Your father sounds like such a wonderful soul. Thank you so much for sharing that here.

And I want you to know that I see this in you, too. Jean, you have this beautiful spirit of joy that I sense every time we interact. Know that this reaches to my soul, and is deeply special to me – this gift of YOU that you give to me.

Anyway, know that you shine so wonderfully in my eyes..

Keep being awesome!!


Little Lessons Under the Big Sky January 25, 2011 at 10:03 pm

Hi Lance,
I just fill with gratitude as I read down everyone’s definition of success. I love that there is a place that exudes such positive energy in the cyberworld of much weeding out the “junk” and negativity! Thank you for that, and for sharing this post with us!

Success: 1. Having my children tell me they love me. 2. Walking the dog and watching his quiet body relax. 3. Sipping a glass of wine with my husband after getting through some very hard days of sick children and appreciating how healthy they normally are. 4. Playing music that resonates with children who need it most. 5. Tugging into bed at night, knowing I gave my life, my family, my work, and myself my very very best.

I could go on and on. Success to me is simultaneous with gratitude. I am oh, so grateful!
Wishing you EVERY definition of success, Lance!
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Lance January 26, 2011 at 7:14 am

I’m sorry to hear how sick your children have been. Not fun for anyone.

And what a beautiful view on success! Knowing you are loved (especially by those closest to you), and connecting to that “best” in you. Mmmm….wonderful. (and…that glass of wine works for me, too!).

Being grateful for the gifts in our life, for the gifts in us…such beautiful success…

Jen, know that you are loved from afar too…

Much, much love to you…


Holly Latty-Mann January 25, 2011 at 11:42 pm

Lance, where is YOUR picture and quote to round us up to a dozen? For all the people who’ve commented to this and earlier posts, I say that I am humbled to be included here, given I have read scores of your comments to Lance’s various posts, all amazingly articulate and talented. Lance, you personify success because you give everyone an opportunity to express their own and grow in that direction. Thanks for sharing the fruits of your labor on this most complex topic. We appreciate you.


Lance January 26, 2011 at 7:18 am

Ha!!! (and…you are sweet, thank you!!)

And just know, Holly, that it is such an honor for me to know you. What a gift you are in my life!

And…you’re right – there are so many people who frequent this site who are filled with success….deep and meaningful success. This post could become a book!

Anyway, thank you, Holly, for imparting your beautiful wisdom here. Always. (oh, and by the way – you SHINE “peaceful joy” so wonderfully!!)


Natalia January 26, 2011 at 7:02 am

Hi Lance!

Well I think that my definition of success in career, is, doing what you love! The problem I’m having is finding what I truly love to do. I spent years and years behind a desk doing a job that I absolutely hated and that is failure for sure!

Success in life….loving what you have! Being thankful everyday for what God has blessed me with.

I’m still working on all of it! I get caught up looking at everyone else’s success….thinking that’s where my success is too.

Natalia 🙂
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Lance January 26, 2011 at 7:22 am

…and within these so-called failures, there is also success. There is, because you know something which doesn’t resonate with you (I sense that very much!).

And – loving what you have….that reminds me of the saying “I wish you enough”. It reminds me that what I have, it IS enough. And when I focus on what brings meaning to me – it’s not about having more, it’s about having that which is meaningful (which often isn’t material…).

…and it is a journey…

Natalia, thank you so much for sharing all of this. And it is so, so good to have you here. What a gift you are!

Much love and big hugs,


Tim January 26, 2011 at 10:54 am


Thank you for sharing these definitions of success from some very talented individuals – including yours. It just goes to show you how each of us defines success differently. I would agree with a lot of what was mentioned above…me, I would probably define success as being able to live our lives in a way that’s reflective of our values and living up to our potential. I’m still working toward my success, but I have a lot of great positive influences that will help me get there. Thanks again for a great post!
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Lance January 27, 2011 at 5:36 am

I love that…positive influences to help you move toward your success!!! Life is pretty wonderful when we connect with others in meaningful ways.

Tim, it is always good to have you here….


Angelia Sims Hardy January 26, 2011 at 5:09 pm

Success – knowing and relishing – JOY – in it’s purest form. Hearing a laugh. A knowing smile. Squeezing a hand. You’ve succeeded when you KNOW how every moment is a treasure. Each little thing that has deep meaning.

Beautiful words Lance! Can’t wait for you book :-).
Angelia Sims Hardy´s Last Fabulous Post ..Halfway ThereMy Profile


Lance January 27, 2011 at 5:38 am

Mmmm….each moment a treasure…that is so completely lovely…

And I know you DO treasure the moments of your life…


Megan "JoyGirl!" Bord January 26, 2011 at 7:04 pm

Lance, hands down this is my favorite post of 2011, and possibly 2010. Incredible! How does your mind work that you come up with these creative, AWESOME ideas? And then you share that awesomeness with all of us. Holy cats! (And dogs!)

I think I found two new favorite quotes on success:
Yours: “When I love…I succeed…”
And Rachel Denning’s: “Success is not a big home, a large income, and all the ‘stuff’ that’s involved in the peacock pageant. Success comes from quietly and confidently living on purpose, moving toward your dreams, and living simply within your means. It’s the feeling you get when you’re living right.”

Speechless, I am.
Bless you, dear friend; bless you!
Megan “JoyGirl!” Bord´s Last Fabulous Post ..The Blessings of Each New MomentMy Profile


Lance January 27, 2011 at 5:46 am

Gosh….you make me feel soooo good!!! (thank YOU!!!)

My mind….perhaps it says “maybe if I can get someone else to write this….” (ha!!) Really, though, this came from part of my own realization that I can define something one way – and yet, that doesn’t mean it’s the only way. So, it really was wonderful to hear from others who have achieved some level of outward success – and hear from them what truly matters.

I love what Rachel shared too!! “living right”…mmm….wonderful.

And Megan…I see this so, so much in you…

Happy Thursday dear one!!


Mariam January 27, 2011 at 3:05 am

Success in work for me is when you have done every task beyond the expectation of your boss and when you reach the goal in every task. And being successful in life for me means having a great relationship with your love ones.
Mariam´s Last Fabulous Post ..Importance of Social MediaMy Profile


Lance January 27, 2011 at 5:47 am

Thanks so much for sharing your definitions of success!

Relationships….wonderful in every part of our lives…mmmm….great stuff!


Dr. J January 27, 2011 at 10:16 am

I think as most people, I have succeeded in some areas and not in others. I do have the gift of some inner drive to succeed. I have to remind myself to take the time to reflect on the voyage. I’ve gotten better at that.


Lance January 28, 2011 at 7:36 am

Dr. J,
Having that inner drive to succeed, that is such a good thing. And whatever “success” looks like for you, having that deeper desire to reach that spot…so good. Yes, I think it is really good to reflect, too…. It’s grounding for me, when I do that – when I reflect on this journey of mine….

Thanks for being here!


Peggy Nolan January 27, 2011 at 2:28 pm

No doubt, Lance, Seth’s definition just hit me in the middle of my soul, “Seth Godin:
I think you’re successful once you create work that matters, something that was frightening to create and powerful to behold.”

I’m in the process of creating work that matters, and it is frightening to create, but so powerful to behold. The work I’m doing with stepmoms and stepfamilies on The Stepmom’s Toolbox is exciting and scary all at the same time.

Thanks for this!
Peggy Nolan´s Last Fabulous Post ..Photo Friday Project – MACROMy Profile


Lance January 28, 2011 at 7:39 am

I’m so excited for you, and for the gifts you are giving through deeply connecting to work that matters. So, while it might be frightening, it is also amazing and beautiful.

Awesome-ness!! (that’s YOU and what you are doing)


Jannie Funster January 31, 2011 at 6:38 am

What a way to start my day, Lsnce!

So many great peeps here.

I like Seth Godin’s line. Simple. Clear. Effective. As soon as I get out of bed I’ll make some coffee happen, then have a real happenin’ day.

Action, Baby! Success is in the doing – the trying.

Happy day.

Jannie Funster´s Last Fabulous Post ..Kit-Kat- Then &amp Now — in 55 wordsMy Profile


Lance January 31, 2011 at 4:00 pm

What a way for me to start my 4 o’clock hour…with YOU!!!

Happy happenin’ day!! (which I think you have LOTS of!)

Plenty of sunshine comin’ our way!


Holly Latty-Mann January 31, 2011 at 8:00 am

Here is today’s Daily Inspiration from Alan Cohen: “Ease will take you to success faster and more efficiently than struggle.” Perhaps this is the power of faith at work when we are beset with multiple challenges…solutions become more apparent. I think there is also a certain amount of healthy acceptance in play here, the stuff St. Francis of Assissi encourages us to do.


Lance January 31, 2011 at 4:02 pm

Thanks so much for stopping back and sharing this very sage advice.

Mmmm….how often have I “struggled”, only to ease back a bit…and make progress!!!

And PLAY…I’m all for it!!!


steven papas March 1, 2011 at 3:49 pm

thanks a lot Lance. Very inspiring presentation. Rachel Denning’s approach to success really got into me. Living for a purpose, living right is what I also believe. Finding a purpose worth living for is so vital.
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Lance March 1, 2011 at 8:42 pm

Having a purpose…that makes this life journey of ours so much more meaningful.

(and I loved Rachel’s words, too…)

Great to have you here!


Andrew Walker August 7, 2011 at 5:19 am

Hi there. Thanks a lot for sharing this. It’s a really really interesting article!
Andrew Walker´s Last Fabulous Post ..Finish Line CouponsMy Profile


Annika May 30, 2012 at 1:00 pm

Exactly! I was just having this conversation last night. The big question we hear so often is “What’s your life purpose?” and that’s usually tied to the career we choose, but life purpose can actually be much more simple. than all that. A true sense of purpose or true success could be Freedom, Love or Stillness. Great list, Lance. Thanks!


Lance Ekum May 30, 2012 at 4:14 pm

Hi Annika,
When we simplify it, and looks that what our real purpose is – that’s it!! It can very possibly be summed up in a word or a few words. And then – it’s to go out and live it!

Thanks for the visit – it’s great having you here!


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