Why Both Inner & Outer Success Matter

Photo by Aleksandr Barsukov on Unsplash

Success on the outside means nothing unless you also have success within.
~ Robin Sharma

In our success obsessed world we are starting to see new invitations to have success on the inside, or to to have success flow from the inside out.

This article explores these invitations along with the question of “Is it better to have success on the inside OR success on the outside? And as we re-define success where do we focus our attention?”

The trap of either / or thinking

If you’re been following me for awhile, you may have already spotted the trap: “either/ or” thinking is sticky.

Do I go for a walk or clean the kitchen?

Do I go out with my friends or stay home on my own?

Should I give attention to clarifying my values or focus on being more efficient?

Either/ or thinking forces us to choose one thing over the other. It begs a judgment that suggests one thing is more/less important than the other.

How about this instead?

Embrace the freedom of “both / and” thinking which allows two things to be differently important (because life just isn’t so black and white)!

Look at how the above statements change.

It’s important for me to have a tidy kitchen because it helps me feel calm and I also want to move my body today after a long day of sitting. Which do I need most right now?

I have had meetings all day with co-workers and feel completely drained and just need some downtime and I’m also really missing my best girlfriends. Which will re-energize me the most?

I know that if I clarify my values I’ll be more grounded and clear about my decisions and being efficient with my time means I can head home sooner. Which is of these two will most help me now?

Learn to discern!

With “both / and” thinking, the skill you need is discernment.

I know you’re capable of discerning what matters most across the situations of your life.

For example:

If company is coming over in 30 minutes, maybe you want to clean the kitchen.

If you’re feeling sluggish maybe a short walk outside is just want you need to feel better… plus everyone’s out of the house and the dog doesn’t care about the dishes.

Both/ and thinking gets away from an often unnecessary struggle to prioritize and causes a pause so you can discern what you need right now.

This is how I invite you to think about inner and outer success.

Both are differently important.

Why both outer and inner success are important

I get it — outer success is praised because it is seen, touched and tangible. It’s “evidence” of our efforts. Furthermore, we need outer success to meet a range of basic and human needs (think food, shelter, transportation, health etc.). External success is the practical, creative and needed expressions of human talent that solves a range of problems in our world.

On the flipside let’s acknowledge the importance of inner success. Within us lies our values, beliefs, emotions and spirituality. And let’s not forget the powerful instrument of our body that we want to be healthy. Inside us is the birthplace of our ideas and uniqueness, so it too matters deeply as a place of success.

Either/ or thinking that asks us to decide which is better is problematic.

To have external success and undervalue or diminish it is simply a privilege the majority of the world does not have.

To over-romanticize internal success is naïve; to live, to dream and to plan requires some measure of external success.

Does success flow from the inside out?

Does it? I don’t think so.

This way of thinking reminds us is to include our inner self in the mix. I believe this approach is born out of a need to reconnect with our neglected inner world and is an invitation to reclaim our attention and focus.

To suggest it flows from within us sets up a new problem and is simply another version of either/ or thinking.

If it flows from within us first, what does this say for those who have experienced trauma, or are suffering with mental / emotional illness? Does this mean they may be limited in their efforts to create success?

This new way is not helpful and this perspective can even create harm for those who are less privileged — does this way of thinking suggest they do not have interior lives of success or abundance? This belief is another way of creating shame, so let’s be careful here.

And yet in our world which places all its emphasis on what is seen and visible, by all means we want to fully invite in the inside perspective of self. The hard truth is with a world so externally oriented we have a real challenge to nurture our inner world.

The Real Challenge

Embrace both your inner and outer world of success.

With this new way you’re invited to build a bridge between your inner self and your outer self and with this bridge allow a dynamic back and forth flow.

Aim for valuing both and creating alignment between the two.

And if you’ve got loads of external success — bring attention to what’s happening on the inside of you and what it means to feel successful and aligned internally.

If you’ve got a healthy and successful inner life — bring attention to how you can bring form to something new. Allow its expression in the outer world.

And in some seasons of our lives we place place greater attention on one or the other — in summer so much or our lives is about external expressions of success (lots of doing and producing). And in winter, it’s good and healthy to bring attention to our inner world (reflection, re-aligning etc.)

I’ll say it once last time, both matter greatly and differently.

Is there alignment between your inner world and outer world?

Where do you tend to place priority?

In what small way can you create inner and outer alignment?

What would change if if success on this inside was as important as your success on the outside?

Allow the creative tension to be present as your mind relaxes into this way of creating success.

And please do share any questions or thoughts you have — I’d love to be in deeper connection with you as you create success in your life.

If you’d like to receive weekly letters chock full of fresh perspective and practices, on behalf of you having success on the inside and on the outside you can sign up here: www.womenredefiningsuccess.com/the-tuesday-letter

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Susan Doerksen Castro

Susan Doerksen Castro

Entrepreneur & Integral Master Coach™ helping accomplished women redefine success so they can realize a new, more fulfilling agenda for their lives.