Four-Dimensional Success

Richard Eyre, a former Mission President in London, is also a New York Times #1 Bestselling author, former director of the White House Conference on Children and Parents, candidate for Governor, founder of three companies, a frequent guest on shows like Oprah, Today and The Early Show, and a ranked senior tennis player…..all of which he says mean nothing when compared to his relationships with his wife Linda and their nine children. Visit the Eyres at http://www.TheEyres.com or at http://www.valuesparenting.com.

In general terms, there is remarkable agreement in the world on the four elements or ingredients or measurements of Success. Virtually everyone would include:

  • Personal Development and Health
  • Career and Achievements
  • Relationships and Family
  • Faith and Spiritual Growth

Each of us may define these four things slightly differently. Many, for example, would emphasize faith within their personal development, and others would make service and giving prominent in their achievements. But the point is, we all pretty much know that these are the four categories in which we work for success. Like the four legs of a chair, they are interconnected; each one supports and balances the other three.

Success in only one of the four areas is flat and one dimensional. We have all seen the shallowness of wealth without health and without family or faith. Even success in two or three of the four dimensions can lack depth as in someone who seems to have everything going for himself, but no one to really share it with, or no belief in the fact that it can endure.

Public opinion studies show that most people believe that doing well in all four areas is the formula for happiness. Four dimensional success is the goal. Linda and I speak frequently to corporations and to young presidents groups like YPO and EO, and the whole focus is balanced success.

There are those who claim atheism, or no belief or faith, and for them, three dimensional success would be the ideal. The more we visit with this type of persons though, the more we see that they sometimes feel, and often long for the fourth dimension.

What is interesting is that when you ask people to rank the top three areas in order of importance, 90% of the souls that inhabit this planet order them like this:

  1. Relationships and Family
  2. Personal Development and Health
  3. Career and Achievements

Yet when most people, are asked to list the three in order of how much time and mental energy they are spending on each one, the list flips:

  1. Career and Achievements
  2. Personal Development and Health
  3. Relationships and Family

And among those of us that include the fourth dimension, almost all would put it first in importance, and yet often find it last or next to last in terms of how much time and effort we give it.

So is there a disconnect between what we believe and what we actually do? Is there a dichotomy between importance and effort, between priority and application? Do we short change the most important of the three in favor of the least?

To verify or clarify which of the four is most important, ask yourself some additional questions:
a. How long can each last? (Achievements are always temporary, Relationships can last forever)
b. How hard is it to get each one back if it is lost? (Stalled careers are easier to fix than broken marriages or families, and lost money is easier to recover than lost faith.)
c. What is our window of time for each? (Our children live with us for only about a fourth of our lives)

C. S. Lewis called home the “ultimate career” and said that “all other careers exist for one reason, and that is to support that ultimate career.” It is so easy to get that backwards and to begin thinking of the family as something that supports (or sometimes gets in the way of) the career. And we all know, deep down, that spiritual development lasts longer and pays more dividends than any kind of physical or mental improvement.

There are two prime explanations for why we put so much more effort and thought and time into achievements than into relationships…..and into career and competition than into faith and family.

One is recognition. There is simply not as much accolade and acknowledgment for our relationships as for our achievements. Having a great marriage or a great kid or being a loyal friend might get us a complement now and then, but in terms of real, broad recognition, they can’t hold a candle to running a company or even getting a big promotion.

The second factor is even more basic, and more important. We just don’t know as much about HOW to build great relationships and strong marriages and families as we know about how to do well in our companies or positions. We’re not as well trained in relationships as we are in achievements. We don’t have MBAs for parenting. Our goals are more specific in our careers and our finances than they are in our families and our marriages.

The first step to rectify the situation is to recognize it. Make a conscious commitment to prioritizing relationships and family more, along with faith and spiritual growth. Remind yourself that career supports family and not the other way around. Set simple goals each week for your most important relationships…..those with family and with God. Find blocks of time when you shut of not only the phone and computer but the whole achievement part of your brain so you can focus on the people and the God you love.

The second step is to improve your relationship and life-balancing skills. Make it the most important part of your personal growth and development. Examine yourself and isolate the areas you fall short in your faith and family and make specific plans and set specific goals for turning weaknesses into strengths.

Comments

  1. The problem with four-dimensional success is that once you achieve it, there’s yet another dimension. And no one, but no one can live up to The 5th Dimension!

  2. Jay Hinton says:

    I believe one of the factors that contributes to our putting more time and effort into our jobs than our families is the pressure we feel from employers. Employers, by and large, expect their employees to put the company #1. Blackberries are given out like candy so people can always be in contact and never more than a phone call or email away from the boss.

    I’ve read many studies that show that the Baby Boomers put up with this because they have to (retirement is coming, AAAAHHH!!!), Generation X puts up with it because it’s the only thing they know (well, that’s how it’s always been done), but Generation Y is starting to rebel against this “you’re always at work, even when you’re at home” mentality. No longer does Gen Y look at a job as a life-long career.

    It takes more than just recognizing the problem and wishing it away to make our priorities line up with what we wish they were. There is way too much pressure from employers to do cram more into an ever-increasingly jam-packed day. Until the work force at large can band together and take back control of how our work society views “work,” then your average office employee is always going to feel out of balance.

  3. Wm, your comment is a paean to the parenting skills of Buckaroo Banzai.

  4. But can you go all the way up to 15, Steve?

  5. “There are those who claim atheism, or no belief or faith, and for them, three dimensional success would be the ideal. The more we visit with this type of persons though, the more we see that they sometimes feel, and often long for the fourth dimension.”

    I wonder what kinds of things do these people say to give that impression. Any examples or trends come to mind?

  6. That’s an excellent question, Observer.

    Where’s the Culture and Community achievement dimension? The agnostics I know find much fulfillment in that area, and it’s not quite the same as Relationships and Family. Indeed, it seems to function in a similar way to what Faith and Spiritual Growth does for us believers (although for me, at least, Culture and Community is also an important component of my life — one that intersects with Faith and Spiritual Growth in interesting, often fruitful, sometimes difficult ways).

  7. Richard:

    A couple of nitpicks to an otherwise nice post.

    1. Time and Importance are not necessarily equally distributable. It takes less time to achieve spiritual growth than it does to achieve career growth.

    2. To your very good point of not knowing how to go about it, in terms of time, most people are told by their employers that they must work 8 hours a day, they must do x, y and z. Careers are structured and have a simple unit of measurement for success, income. Relationships and Spiritual Growth are much more difficult to measure. While I can say I was making X last year and this year I am making X place, and thus I have career growth, there is no corollary where I can say I was a Father Level 1 last year, and am now promoted to a Father level 2.

  8. Richard:
    I would respectfully ask how you could come to make such broad statements as “remarkable agreement in the world” and “virtually everyone”? I am not well-traveled, but I consider myself well-read, and in my limited experience, your four elements smell strongly of a temporally rich society, whereas, I think most of the world struggles to measure success in terms of having food to feed their family. I personally try to measure success through the Lord’s prioritized commandments, 1, to love Him, 2, to love my neighbor as myself. And then, to prioritize according to the weightier matters of the law, dealing justly, having mercy and charity.

  9. Stephanie says:

    As a SAHM for many years (with young children), reading these four ingredients of success explains a lot about why I feel so unfulfilled most of the time.

    Relationships and Family – check.
    Faith and Spiritual Growth – check.
    Personal Development and health – not so much (in fact, bearing children has seriously challenged my health)
    Career and Achievements – yeah right

    Sigh. This is true:

    Success in only one of the four areas is flat and one dimensional. Even success in two or three of the four dimensions can lack depth . . .

    Not that spending years upon years of caring for children is the wrong thing to do, but it is sure hard to feel “successful” while doing it (as I am reminded each time I receive my alumni magazines and read about everyone else’s success).

  10. Natalie B. says:

    #9: That’s an interesting comment. It seems like a lot of our paradigms for thinking about success—even success across four areas—have the idea of career built into them. How do Mormons who hold to “traditional” gender reconcile these ideas with the rich array of Mormon-produced literature on self- or career-help? Do we assume that this literature is more geared towards Mormon men? Would women who stay home to raise families define what they need to balance in these same ways?

  11. Would the poor member of the Church in Huaraz, Peru define what they need to balance and be successful in these same ways? And, amen, to #10. Unfortunately, I think we Mormons do assume, to our own detriment, the success literature is geared towards Mormon men. We all need to re-think these 4 areas.

  12. Stephanie says:

    Yes, Natalie B and KevinR, my impression was that this post is geared toward Mormon men. As a woman trying to fulfill my “role” as outlined by the church, it leaves me feeling deeply dissatisfied.

  13. “there is no corollary where I can say I was a Father Level 1 last year, and am now promoted to a Father level 2.”

    Oh, yeah? I bet your kids would be glad to give you that feedback. Mine do it all the time.

  14. Thanks for this, Richard. I think it is a good reminder of some important principles. Thanks!

    To respond to your question why we spend so much of our time on career-related activities (vs. family, etc.) is simply that room and board ain’t free in this world, and frankly, we never know how long we’ll live. So, we plan and prepare and work like dogs to earn a buck or three, so that we aren’t financially dependent on others or the state. Sounds kind of crude, but it’s true. Kind of like how we spend 1/4 of our lives sleeping — we have to.

  15. I agree that we sometimes (often?) fail to focus on the things that matter most. I think we often focus on those areas with the most immediate, extrensic rewards while neglecting those areas where rewards are more intrinsic and may not be as readily evident.

    Also, for me, even though I know it is the most important thing I can do, it is usually difficult for me to invest in a relationship if I perceive that the interest is not reciprocated.

  16. In forced retirement for health reasons, I guess that means that my chair is standing on two legs?

    But how come I feel so happy and fulfilled? I can do volunteer work, where they appreciate me for my effort and good spirit, not just for the bottom line. I can spend more time playing with my grandson, and also spend time my grown children… not to speak of my wife.

    I would say, that if you ask the same questions in a slum in Mumbai or Lagos, “Career and Achievements” and such do not play a very large part — although many people there work very hard.

  17. living in zion says:

    Another study (can’t reference it- sorry) says that the list for US women is very different than the above stated for men.

    The top of the list for women is Personal Development. It is assumed that is because all mothers, working or SAHMs usually give everything they have to the task of child rearing and little to none to their own talent development. Thus feelings like #9. For women, it is not by paycheck they measure happiness, it is the much more difficult task of balancing the needs of creative self and service to others.

  18. Great article. Thanks Mr. Eyre. And thanks BCC.

  19. I’m going out on a limb to say that for the majority of Mormon women, their ideal and their actual priority lists match Stephanie’s (#9), but the satisfaction we apparently should expect from such a paradigm eludes us. What are your recommendations for this population, Richard?

  20. “…former Mission President in London, is also a New York Times #1 Bestselling author, former director of the White House Conference on Children and Parents, candidate for Governor, founder of three companies, a frequent guest on shows like Oprah, Today and The Early Show, and a ranked senior tennis player…..all of which he says mean nothing when compared to his relationships with his wife Linda and their nine children.”

    I mean no disrespect- you are certainly accomplished, but this is just rubbing me the wrong way, Mr Eyre. How does one with nine children accomplish so much, and have a fully developed “fourth leg” at home? And if your children and wife mean so much, why do you list worldly accomplishments before them?

    This feels too much like the lip-service the “beautiful wife” and “spiritually sensitive mother” platitude women get so often in church talks.

  21. Tracy M, Richard can answer for himself, but I’ll just share what I know of their family. I’ve read most of the Eyre’s book “Teaching Your Children Responsibility” (and have “Teaching Your Children Values”). Richard was very successful in his career as a young father. He was called to be a mission president before they were done having children. He and his wife have written numerous books together. Based on all I have read and seen of them, it does sound like he spends a lot of time with his family, and he and Linda work close together. I was very impressed with their family life and parenting while I read the book. (The reason I didn’t finish it is that I didn’t necessarily relate very well. They were/are very wealthy, and that provides opportunities that aren’t available to most of the world’s population. Not that it discounts any of their advice (which is very, very good). I just had a hard time relating.)

  22. Tracy, I think your suspicion is perfectly reasonable, given the contexts in which similar rhetoric is sometimes deployed in the church (and in Mormon/conservative family culture generally), but in this particular case, I think skepticism is unwarranted.

  23. Stephanie,

    Success is not having what other people have, or being a jack of all trades. Success is the progressive realization of worthy ideal. The success is the custodian who does what he does because he WANTS to, and he does a darn good job at it. The success is the stay at home mom who stays at home because she WANTS to, and she does a darn good job at it. The success is the businessmen who wants to sell, and does a darn good job at it. None of these are more successful than any other, except based on what they want to do, and what they are called to do.

    Now, are you doing what you do because you want to (Along with God–he wants you to be happy, and develop all of your talents), or are you doing what you do because you feel you have to? When we come in unity with what God wants us to be, we will feel whole. That’s His promise, that we will be whole. If you feel empty… perhaps it’s time to pursue what you know is a worthy ideal?

    These are just general comments, and I don’t mean to direct them only at Stephanie.

  24. Oie, I didn’t mean it to come off that preachy. :s

  25. Justin, is a man who spends his whole life at work (neglecting his family in the process) because he WANTS to going to find happiness? Can he effectively neglect one of the four legs and still find happiness?

    I hear what you are saying. I stay at home because I want to (I am well-educated and turned down several lucrative job offers when I decided to stay home). In the long-run, I am very satisfied. In the short-term, it requires much personal sacrifice.

    However, my comment wasn’t necessarily a reflection of of my life and my feelings. I was trying to express what others more eloquently said: this list that applies to “90% of the souls that inhabit this planet” doesn’t apply to me. And it doesn’t seem to apply to most women who are giving up careers and achievements (at least in the short-term) to raise children. So, what does that mean? That we don’t deserve feelings of achievement and success, or that we have to give them up entirely? Or does it mean that perhaps this list isn’t really reflective of 90% of the world’s population?

  26. Stephanie,
    In answer to your first question, I don’t believe he can. I believe he can attain a level of happiness, but he will never know the joy of having a close knit and loving family, what I would espouse as the greatest happiness of all.

    I am glad you are willing to sacrifice what others would claim you need to have in order to be truly happy. I am glad that you recognize that as well. And in such, I answer that this list does not reflect 90% of the population. I don’t think there is a list outside of the Plan of Salvation (faith & ordinances, enduring to the end, repentance, etc…) that applies wholly and fully to more than one person on this earth. I think it’s a good guess that many people can take chunks from and apply, however.

  27. I agree, Justin. In accomplishing the purpose of telling people (men and women), “Hey, don’t sacrifice your family for your career”, I find this post very effective.

  28. “Nobody on their deathbed ever said, “Gee, I wish I had spent more time at the office”.

  29. I find comments from 10-12 intriguing as I feel the complete opposite. Maybe as an LDS woman who was a workaholic for the first 5 years of my marriage, and still work even through having children, I see a huge similarity between what he describes and how I am feeling. I have felt for a long time that if I had, instead of working alongside my husband when we first got married, just stayed home and learned about how to cook meals every night, budget, plan ahead, keep the house clean, and learn some hobbies, I might not feel so overwhelmed with finding a balance now. It is interesting that other people have felt the opposite. I can’t wait for the time that I can quit work, and work on the other things that I value more…

  30. that sounded totally homey and old-fashioned! I agree with Justin’s comment to a degree (with the same reservations as Stephanie, although I think that guys planning on focusing on career could make the choice of not getting married or marrying someone with similar goals). Maybe I just wanted to be a homemaker and never could! :)

  31. I’m curious why “Faith and Spiritual Growth” is not simply a part of “Personal Development.” Why does “faith” receive its own dimension? How is “spiritual growth” so qualitatively different from, say, “intellectual growth” or “artistic growth” “growth in health”?

  32. Kuri — I think it’s because without faith and spiritual growth, none of the rest really matter.

  33. “Nobody on their deathbed ever said, “Gee, I wish I had spent more time at the office”.

    Do we have data to back this up? Just repeating it over and over does not make it true.

    I know a lot of women in their 50s and 60s who do fervently wish they hadn’t so thoroughly abandoned their careers when they became moms.

    And that desire is tripled if they’ve been divorced.

    So it may be true for men, or not at all. It is trite and worthless to quote.

  34. Steve Evans says:

    Naismith, you’ve inspired me – if I have the option of knowing when the Reaper comes, I’ll say, gasping, “I wish… I’d spent more time… in the…. office……” (thud)

  35. “I know a lot of women in their 50s and 60s who do fervently wish they hadn’t so thoroughly abandoned their careers when they became moms.”

    The quote is illustrating the truth that people care more about others, in specific, their loved ones, than they care about their career; on their deathbed.

    50 and 60 year old women who wish they had done more with their careers do not illustrate a contrary point. Not only are they not on their deathbed (where what matters most comes out forefront), they most often then not (at least I hope) wish this in that they could have done more for their loved ones; ie., they could have provided more income, or done more good in the world, if they had not given up their careers “so thoroughly”.

    When it comes down do death–what matters most is not what you did for yourself when you lived, but what you did for others… particularly those you love most. If that is not what matters to you most, you are a poor poor soul indeed.

  36. “The quote is illustrating the truth that people care more about others, in specific, their loved ones, than they care about their career; on their deathbed.”

    I understand what you are trying to support. But you don’t get to claim that this is “truth” without data or divine inspiration.

    I am not sure how true this is among “people” or even “Mormons.”

    If I died tomorrow, I would not have regrets about my family, who I served well. I WOULD have regrets about my career. I think if I do get to work to age 70, that will provide some satisfaction as well, but right now it has been somewhat unrealized and abortive.

    I don’t think this makes me an evil person.

  37. “I understand what you are trying to support. But you don’t get to claim that this is “truth” without data or divine inspiration.”
    I’m sorry, I have worded it poorly. It is my opinion that people should care more about others than themselves, is truth. I cannot support this axiom with anything other than scripture and circumstantial evidence, and for that I cannot claim authority to declare it, but I am persuaded by it nonetheless.

    “I don’t think this makes me an evil person.” If you have served your family well, and regret that you could have served equally well and still have done things for the benefit of yourself, perhaps served even better with new talents and abilities, then that is wonderful!

    I suppose the quote is focusing more on that one would feel much more sorrow neglecting their family, then they would neglecting their career.

    I guess on my own persuasion I would add to the quote to make it thus:

    “Gee, I wish I had spent much more time at the office at the expense of my family.”

  38. I will disagree respectfully with your assertion about the universal acceptance of your four dimensions, Mr. Eyre.

    If we evaluated Jesus Christ by your standards then His life would have been a failure. Your standards might be good for most people but disciples cannot live that way.

    Christ ordered the apostles to drop their work and to abandon their families. More importantly, Christ challenged all of us to leave the broad road and take the narrow path.

    As disciples, we should be suspicious of what “virtually everyone” may or may not think.

  39. Researcher says:

    A tangential (and totally inappropriate for this discussion) question…

    Is the commenter above the regular man-of-few-words, provide-the-citation-for-just-about-anything Justin? If so, that’s as much as you’ve ever said in the two years that I’ve been reading the bloggernacle.

    Now, back to the normal programming…

  40. Provide the citation for your questionable accusation, “Researcher”.

    Haha, nah, I’m a new guy.

  41. Sounds awfully like the (Middle-Class American) Gospel According to Covey.

  42. “I know a lot of women in their 50s and 60s who do fervently wish they hadn’t so thoroughly abandoned their careers when they became moms. And that desire is tripled if they’ve been divorced” ~Naismith

    Indeed. When I became a mother, I completely and utterly walked away from a career I had worked years on- and now, with kids 8, 6 and 3, I am going through a divorce.

    I know I can pick up the pieces, and I know I can find a way to make it work- but it’s going to be a lot harder than if I’d kept my foot in the door. Also, the Brethren have been wise in encouraging women to finish their educations for years now. You just never know what the agency of another is going to throw at you.

  43. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 38
    “If we evaluated Jesus Christ by your standards then His life would have been a failure.”
    That is a very good point, Hellmut.

    Here where I work (in a secular, liberal, hospital setting), we talk about how a happy life requires satisfaction in three areas: vocation, play, and love. Each of these areas is broadly defined and highly individual. Spirituality is viewed as a means to those ends, not as a separate category.

  44. Wow optimized for iPhone!! Thanks.

  45. The thing is, one looks at the current leadership, and they did NOT choose careers that easily mesh with family life. Elder Nelson a heart surgeon, Pres. Uchtdorf a fighter pilot, Elder Oaks a lawyer who married as an undergrad.

    Now one can maybe argue that a heart surgeon is serving others. But a lawyer? Why would he do that to his family?

    I think it is okay for him to pursue his dreams and all, and if you have to spend a huge chunk of your waking hours working, then it should be something that brings satisfaction.

    But if we’re going to castigate folks who don’t put family first….

  46. Along the lines of No. 38, above, from Hellmut… I add my hearty endorsement. Congratulations for Bro Eyre and his notable accomplishments.

    While he as no doubt been able to effectively shield himself (and nothing to the contrary is suggested), I can only surmise the difficulty that many others may find to avoid silent, righteous and well deserved pride.

    *******************************
    9 And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:
    10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.
    11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
    12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
    13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.
    14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be based; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

    ******************************************

    I do not equate accomplishment or personal maturity with pride. Many accomplished individuals are humble and give tirelessly of themselves and means.

    However, in our contemporary LDS culture of perfectionism, I find posts like this to be rather toxic.

    Earl

  47. Thanks for your comments everyone…..
    A healthy and diverse dialogue.
    Hope to do it again sometime soon

  48. But what I primarily work at home, camped out on the couch programming while the TV is on, or playing a game with my son while on a conference call? What do I say on my deathbed?

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