5 principles of balanced success 13



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If I could share 500 words to inspire, this is the important wisdom I’d want to pass along to others…

After having several successful careers, a marriage of 51 years, four children, and eight grandchildren, people ask how I’ve done it all. With hindsight, I see that I’ve always had these five guiding principles in the back of my mind.

1. When opportunity knocks, answer. Take every opportunity that comes your way, even if you don’t have a clue how to do the task. You’ll either figure out how to do it, or you’ll fail and pick yourself up and move on. Either way you will have learned something. Remember, you don’t learn to play tennis without hitting the ball into the net a few times.

2. Work, family and community. Always have these three arenas in your life. Invariably something will be good in one of these arenas and something will be frustrating in another. In just one day, you may be praised at work and “dissed” at home, or vice versa. This helps you keep perspective that you are human.

3. Prioritise family. In the tough times that come to every life, loved ones matter, not money or things. It is easy to let the family take second place, because they won’t fire you. It often seems impossible to do this when you are working and bringing up young children. But merely putting down your phone or computer and looking directly at your partner or child while they are talking to you can save you time in the long run.

4. Take care of yourself. Figure out what is the most efficient way for you to get some time to yourself. For some, this is simply staring out the window while doing the dishes or vegging out during the work commute. For others, it involves listening to music or exercising for twenty minutes. If you only serve others you become resentful. Sometimes all you can do is take a second each day to note the beauty of the sky. Even this will refresh you.

5. Don’t strive for perfection. We are all a mix of assets and liabilities. Strengthen both, but recognise that what makes us unique is the combination. Don’t waste precious time being angry with yourself. Instead, learn from your mistakes and act better the next time. Moreover, in order to have good relationships with others, you have to have a good relationship with yourself. Enjoy who you are, be forgiving of yourself.

Life is filled with twists and turns. We cannot control everything that happens to us but we have some role in how we react to the circumstances that come our way. Make a plan, set goals, prepare for the future you want, but recognise the plan needs constant modification. Be nimble and be quick to change course as opportunities come your way.  Do not waste time regretting what can no longer be. I learned from my father, who was a school teacher and a principal, that one must make decisions and then make them the best decision. Be proactive to do so.

Previously published here.


What is success to you?

Ruth Nemzoff

Dr. Ruth Nemzoff is a resident scholar at Brandeis University's Women's Studies Research Center. She lectures on parenting adult children, relationships and family dynamics. Her papers are archived at the Schlesinger Library at Harvard University where she also holds a doctorate in social policy. She has served three terms in the New Hampshire Legislature and was New Hampshire Deputy Commissioner of Health and Welfare. She is the mother of four adult children, four in-law children and grandmother of eight. She lives in Brookline, MA with her husband Harris Berman, Dean of Tufts University School of Medicine.

  1. Such balanced and excellent advice,and now I know the last one is the most important one of all! Look after Yourself! The whole pack of cards collapses if you do.

  2. Waking up each morning.

    Seriously. I am a Planner Trainer” by temperament so if I can achieve my plans and hit all of the KPIs I’m happy.

    To do this I’ve followed a program to be continually focused on the 3Es, the 3Ps, the 3Ts and the 7Ps.

    That is:
    3Es = find the most Efficient, Effective, Economic method of doing everything;

    3Ps = Practice, Practice & Practice

    3Ts = Training, Training, & Training (as in educational training)

    7Ps = Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance

    It will take me years to attain my goal. I know I have not done that yet. It is the eternal search for excellence.

    But most importantly one must enjoy the journey and attempt to learn something new every day. 😉

    1 REPLY
    • OK. The word “Effective” caught my eye. I’ve just dug out my book “The 7 habits of highly effective people” I’ve turned straight to “The time management matrix” which really bashes me over the head with its wisdom. (I think Stephen Covey must have known me personally) P.S. I’ve never been Fly Fishing but its interesting what you can find there :).

  3. Yes if you do not try too do things nothing changes even if it seems impossiable small gains are still gains.

  4. Inspiring words. Here are the “take home” words for me. Last line says
    “one must make decisions and then make them the best decision.” Well the decision to become an unemployed and New Start dependent was foist upon me. So, taking this advice to heart I’ll have to “make it the best decision” even though I didn’t make it I will have to be professional about not having money or being able to buy the food, the exercise classes, the insurance covers etc. Of course, when so many people like me do just that and don’t spend – that multiplies the recession effect. Everyday we hear of another local business going to the wall. Are there free classes on “how to be a successfully poor”?

  5. Excellent advice. Probably looking back I can see we had to make the same choices some good some not so good. Regrets I’ve had a few as the Sinatra song says however we are still here and have a very good family,so I guess we are well off compared to some.

  6. Great advice. Particularly the “prioritise family”, not enough of that happening these days.

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