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I believe that what society thinks of as success, or who they label as a successful person, is just plain wrong. In this episode of The Lazy Entrepreneur Podcast, Sam & Emma Priestley discuss a new definition of success and how they look to achieve it.

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03:12 – The importance of balance in life
06:47 – Emma’s take on the relationship between health and business at PWC
09:00 – Finding optimal balances
11:16 – Sam’s “two thing” idea
13:39 – Emma’s optimal balance day
17:00 – Who do you think of when you think of successful people?
22:44 – Different metrics for success


S: hello and welcome back to another episode of the lazy entrepreneur I’m your host Sam Priestley as always I’m joined by my lovely wife Emma Priestley
E: hello
S: today we’re going to talk about a subject that when I described it to Emma before we started she said oh that’s a very Sam topic
E: yes I did
S: and that is redefining success what does it mean to be successful? and the reason it’s a very me topic because I think that what society thinks is success or who the successful people are is wrong when we think about professional athletes CEOs business tycoons Playboy’s whatever captains of industry the people who you know we see on TV that we idolize as very very successful I in my mind they all have a have the same issue and that is that they have focused so much on one part of their life that they are really unbalanced so I let me explain a bit more by what I mean by that I think there’s a concept of good enough that there are diminishing returns the better you get at something in other words the better you get at something the more you need to do the harder you need to work to achieve anymore to achieve a little bit more so an example would be in in weightlifting if you went from never having lifted weights before after a year of lifting weights you’ll see huge gains you would have doubled or even tripled the amount you can lift if you’ve been a regular weightlifter for five ten years the amount of work you need to put in just to add a few pounds or a couple of kilograms to your the amount you lift every year is put the same work that person is putting in their first year maybe even more it’s real diminishing gains and so the best weight lifters are people who are put in huge amounts of work just for tiny incremental achievements. The same is true with money there’s huge benefits to making fifty thousand pounds a year versus just ten thousand pounds a year, unbelievable changes to your life in your quality of living but going from fifty thousand pound to two hundred thousand yeah there is benefit that the benefits are all smaller and then there’s almost no benefit from going from 200,000 to say a million pounds a year no difference to your life won’t be that big at all and in fact really the more you earn you actually end up hitting problems that you didn’t have at lower levels for instances like if you’re a billionaire you’ve got to worry about stuff like getting kidnapped or your friends or family getting kidnapped. how ridiculous is that worrying about security everywhere you go you also end up not being able to survive without a certain level of luxury you won’t be able to take enjoyment in saying like staying in a hostel somewhere like that and probably the most realistic worry is you won’t really be able to work out who are your friends and who are just talking to you because you’re your money or your success so my point really is that there is a point when in reality after you’ve worked hard at something you’ve achieved enough and that putting any more effort isn’t really worth it and it’s a much better use of your time energy to focus on a different part of your life because I believe in balance I believe that you want to be as good as possible in a wide variety of things in your life
E: not just money
S: not just money not just your tennis skill not whatever it is not just in your career I believe that you should balance your mental health your physical health the spiritual health your financial health your relationships with your friends your relationship to your family your romantic relationships your downtime your self-development I mean there’s a whole range of things that are important and if you focus just on one part yes you could become one of the best in the world at that thing but that is gonna be at the detriment of all these other things
E: yeah
S: and in my mind the really successful people are the people who do well a really wide range of these different aspects of life I think when I bring it up like this most people would agree with me that it’s having a balance is really important and at some point it’s not worth putting in the extra effort into one thing it’s worth focusing on different parts where you’re getting easier gains but the problem is is that the people who I think are the most successful at life we’ll never hear from because they’ve never pushed it to the boundary that they become unusually exceptional in one field and we actually hear about them I mean there are exceptions of course but generally if you listen to podcast interviews with famous people and they’re all people who absolutely smashed it a one-one thing yeah I’m sure if you have a deep chat with them you’ll find that there’s other areas where they’re where they’re lacking nd they’re struggling with this is something that I think about quite a lot because it’s not just it’s not just theoretical it’s something
E: It impacts everyone
S: It impacts everyone it’s something that you you can apply to your life
E: I think the way a lot of people look at this is that they spend their lives concentrating on their financial health and they only address the other areas so for example mental health physical health relationships when something goes wrong so it’s not something they don’t look at for example their physical health there’s something to invest in throughout their life they think if something goes wrong that they become ill in some way that’s when they need to then spend more time on their physical health yeah
S: yeah you found that a lot when you were working a PWC right yes that people would all the time having to be take time off because they’d had a health breakdown
E: yeah
S: which they’d left to the last minute yeah
E: it’s all mental yeah yeah rather than can take a step back and try and reduce the level of stress and make sure they didn’t get to a breakdown point but they all did get to a breakdown point and it was horrendous mm-hmm and then I guess the other thing is um looking at the partners so every year they would go through a physical health check and and it was very much talked about that their health is associated with how much money they can make for the firm and to be a partner you have to invest money your own money into the firm so if their health was poor than they that was going to affect their financial performance
S: So they said the business was trying to find the optimal level where they can produce most for the company
E: yes but it didn’t work because most partners had extremely unhealthy lifestyles so they didn’t eat very well during work or outside work they didn’t do very much exercise and they weren’t really incentivized to improve it
S: yeah and they look unhealthy as well yes I love wining and dining clients not sleeping very much constantly traveling it doesn’t lend itself to a healthy lifestyle and that’s both physically and mentally
S: I think it’s really interesting how we judge people by their appearances as well so you look at them and if you didn’t know they were a partner in a big firm you think this person is really unhealthy like what’s he doing with his life yeah then once you know yeah and all this money although he’s actually successful and likewise when you see an athlete who has a peak like physical perfection oh that guy is doing really well we don’t know as he’s missed the last Christmas he’s missed Christmas for the last ten years and hasn’t seen his family because he’s been busy training and and working you don’t see what he’s like relationships are with his friends of family yeah there’s always kind of stuff that goes on behind the scenes that you don’t really know of? I do think of this contact quite a bit because I’m actually a really competitive person and I find myself when I look at certain people who are excelling in a field I get a bit jealous and I get I get kind of like motivated to really compete and to drop everything else I’m doing and try and like keep up
E: In that one area
S: in that one area I’m like what like even if only I was in as much work as there might be and so I have to remind myself of this concept that yes they are absolutely like beating me to a pulp and in this one section of life but in reality they’re probably unbalanced and there’s probably other parts of their life where they might look at me and be jealous of me and then I can then approach that a different way instead of saying oh this person is so much better than me teach me I can approach it from well we’ve actually both got stuff to give to each other let’s learn from each other
E: yeah
S: and it means if I fail at something I can think to myself well the reason I failed is because I prioritized other areas of my life yeah which is often true but you know what is the balance what is the best balance I don’t know that’s something I’m constantly working yeah
E: I think it changes every moment every day I think that’s the point you’ve got to be reactive to this stuff yeah yeah it’s juggling plates
S: juggling plates and you know life is is should be constant improvement constant development so your level of good enough at one thing might then change because everything else and things change in your life
E: like for example us getting married so our relationships with our family has had to change since we were married yeah and that’s that’s just that’s the reality of it
S: I thought it was interesting talking to um someone at our church who was saying for the first year of married life couples aren’t allowed to do any voluntary work at the church yeah because they consider it quite important that you spend that time each other focusing on your relationship together very interesting is we don’t really you don’t really think about imagine if the same was at work you have a maternity leave what about like new relationship leave
E: and the time you should invest yeah
S: yeah that’s interesting and yeah I don’t I don’t really know the balance just that there is some balance that needs to be had and something I’m constantly constantly working on
E: I guess it’s making conscious decisions about this stuff it’s being aware this is our first year of marriage so instead of I don’t know going to the pub every week with your mates that you use some of that time I’m not saying every week but some of that time with your partner in that it’s thinking about these decisions and making a decision together or yeah consciously
S: I have this idea that I can do two things well every day so I can do sport so busy in jiu-jitsu and I can do work I can’t do any thing else well I can’t socialize or I can’t do dates or I can’t I can’t I can’t commit myself very well to the other stuff or I can do social staff and say visiting friends or I can do work and social stuff and generally I think that you know I can do all three but I can’t do all three well as I say for instance yesterday I did jujitsu and relationship stuff with you with you I did do a little bit work but I did about an hour and a half two hours of yeah so I didn’t do that well yeah then again I could spend all day working on one thing and I wouldn’t be able to then do jujitsu I won’t be able to hang out with you or go visit friends or do whatever the other thing might be
E: wow that’s so interesting
S: Did you not know that
E: No I didn’t know that
S: I thought that for for a few years really that like but that’s that’s what’s true for me that’s given my energy levels and like doing exercise uses up energy and means I don’t have the energy for work or whatever yeah socializing uses up energy for me like whenever you commit yourself to one of you put energy into something it’s going to take energy out of you and it is possible to cruise through certain things so you could spend you know go to the gym in the morning work really hard to spend all day working and then come home and kind of just cruise through the evening with your family yes I think a lot of people do yeah but you’re not going to do that well and it’s not gonna you’re not gonna be improving those even in relationships you’ve actually got to work hard on it
E: yeah or the amount of time you’ve allocated for exercise maybe isn’t enough before work yeah
S: yeah oh you’re doing you’re doing both half-assed your exercising or you’re half ass-ing the family or relationship time at the end
E: I think it’s so interesting you putting in like that it’s now making me think how do I value it and I think without just the off-the-cuff I value doing as many as possible so I think having the combination of I don’t know seeing a friend for coffee doing some work, going to yoga I don’t know what else I could add into that spending time with you so working on self development improving something around cooking that as a list of things to do in one day for me at the end of that day would be a very successful day yeah and speaking to my mom on the phone rather than I spent a whole day on work I think that’s been a successful day because I don’t just value work as successful
S: I think you generally have higher energy levels to me anyway so I think if I tried to do all of that I would I would reach trouble or it would wipe me out for the next day the next day I’d struggle to to be productive at all really
E: yeah well I guess my focus is on spending time with other people so whether it’s friends family you so I get my energy from that whereas that exhausts you
S: And its true I know someone who would turn up to work at 6:00 in the morning and leave work 8 9 and 9 and I’m speaking to a friend who worked for him as well and was like I don’t know how he has the energy to do it how he has a need to work all day long I got kind of laughed at and he said he didn’t spend the day working he spent the day mincing around London meeting all his friends having a great time chatting having coffee yeah exactly okay that’s a different way of saying that he’s doing some work but he’s also combining it with a lot of different things in order to kind of get the most out of maybe different energy pockets he has inside of him um yeah I think that there’s definitely truth to that as well the you draw energy from different areas I think that about creativity that a change of scene will spur creativity saying Robert Rodriguez who’s a director what he does is he gets his actors to when they’re preparing for a role they’ll do a bit of like method acting they’ll play a character and play their music and maybe write a little story so they’re constantly changing the medium of which they’re being creative and he says he reckons that really helped bring everything out and I think that that’s true definitely I find when doing work is I’ll go off to a different place with my laptop and that change of scenery will work quite well
E: and I’ll say I think you got a lot of I don’t know whether energy’s right where maybe strength from your spiritual health mm-hmm
S: yeah definitely it’s probably all very personal to each person and now we’re back to the idea they’ve been asking to be a balance sort of ying yang of your life
E: and that changes every moment every day every week every year it’s not something you can plan out this is might be a June 2019 I think you got to be reactionary so who do you think of when we think of and successful people
S: and that’s a good question it’s a hard one it’s hard question because you can’t see you can’t see how everyone is balanced among different staff
E: you only see one side so I can look at some people so someone who jumps to mind who a lot people might have heard of is this guy mister money mustache he’s a he’s a blogger and his thing is he retired when he was 30 and now he’ll spend his time you know with his family and his self-development and he’s got this big believer in like building stuff of your hands and and living a fulfilled life that is sort of financially free and when I look at him I think that is sort personal things very successful he’s not particularly successful monetarily he lives the way he achieves it is by living a very cheap life but he also has this idea that topics I’ve talked on before hedonistic adaption stuff like that that if you if you live a luxurious life you need that luxurious life and it’s much better to live a life of you know kind of basic basic life so I think of him as a successful I don’t know maybe other parts of his life isn’t going so well maybe a certain things that he’s struggling with someone else I kind of think everyone when I think of successful people people like Tim Ferriss he kind of known for being quite good at a bunch of different things but not being exceptional at anyone kind of skipping between things and getting good enough at a bunch of different topics you know he’s made decent amount of money he’s done all this kind of stuff at the same time he spoken quite a lot about his mental health issues and how he struggles with friendships and relationships and how he’s got maybe an obsessive person like he’s a bit of an obsessive person and that has its downsides as well so maybe he would look at other people and say those people he would consider successful as people like Joe Rogan. He in my ideas kind of got the perfect life where he spends a time doing stuff he’s really interested in and he runs his podcast where he spends a few hours a day on it we just talk to interesting people and works on developing himself and learning more
E: yeah he’s always talking about doing different skills whether it’s learning archery or whether he’s in the gym or whether he’s on some crazy new diet
S: and he’s got a very inquisitive mind so he’s very interested in whatever topic people are talking about or bringing up you know he also does stand-up comedy and he is really into martial arts and so he commentates on MMA so he seems very successful as far as I know his family life is good and he’s got some children and stuff like that who he spends a lot of time with but who knows maybe there’s other parts to his life where he feels unbalanced and is is lacking a bit and you know you don’t really know I mean it’s easy to look closer to home that’s what friends and family people who you think have got it worked out that doing well I think Ben Larkin would definitely fit that category as someone who I think is successful he’s very comfortable in himself and his interests he makes enough money so he’s not particularly focused on that he’s a moment never he’s really working on kind of his spiritual health and that kind of side of it trying to be a service to other people so I’d say he is someone like you said who is very successful and physical health as well I think the health is really important he is into exercise and self-development so he ticks a lot of boxes to me I did an interview with him in one of the previous episodes it’s a bonus episode you can look that up. someone else my friend Daniel Lim I think he he ticks a lot of boxes. I don’t think he’s achieved it and I think he’s achieved that what we would both consider a very successful person and the complete balance across his life but I think he’s well on his way that he’s very close and he’s moving you know he’s moving in the right direction with everything and
E: do you think people would be you as someone in their lives that has quite a good balance across these things
S: well I hope so you know I’ve been working very hard over the last everything’s I kind of thought these concepts maybe like five years ago to be my definition a success which is something that’s balance across all these different things and I think that I have you know I haven’t achieved everything I want to but I never will because the whole point was this a work in progress but I do think I well I hope people look at me as someone who’s successful and balanced then again there’s probably I probably know people from different aspects of my life and they’ll look at me in different ways in jujitsu I’m a blue belt the top ranks of black belt as people look at me and say oh he’s not that good he’s not successful but they don’t see all the other parts of my life where I think I’m a bit better balanced same in work I got friends who make a lot more money to me they might look at me and say oh you know he’s not doing that well blend both insists there’ll be white belts in Brazilian jiu jitsu who will look at me and say well he’s awesome and there’ll be people who are earning a lot less money than me and think wow he’s doing awesome so that’s not the same like with friends and family I don’t know what one of my family think I’ve got it worked out or if they think I’m going down some weird paths I think definitely at one point in life everyone kind of thought passively disapproved of what I was up to
E: definitely
S: you know why are you not getting a job why are you not doing this why not doing that
E: constantly giving you articles with houses for sale
S: oh yeah my mom is always trying to convince me to buy a house to live in you know because that’s one of her in what she sees as good balance in life yeah that will be one thing you know having a home having a house having a stable home yeah I think how other people see us and say we don’t have any children to them that is a one of their success criteria yeah I think you know it is easy to idolize people who are close to you I think my mom is someone who has been very successful in her life yeah in achieving what she has which has been a very caring nurturing person and being like a real asset to loads of people in her life and probably the single biggest good influence on a bunch of different people in her life from our close family to other older friends as well
E: and she’s also very academically successful she’s very active and successful in her career
S: well she was a barrister a lawyer but then she she quit it and instead became a housewife and then eventually went back and became like a secretary for like a charity right and kind of growing applications so I think a lot of people say she gave up on or she quit what could have been a successful career
E: well I think she had a successful career I don’t think it’s about what she doesn’t have now it’s that she had she has been very successful at different things throughout her life which is a good thing
S: then I think there’s others parts where she might be struggling a little bit more maybe health-wise I think she’s going through a slightly tough time at a moment I think she probably taken on a bit too much stress in their life a bit too much of other people’s burdens but yeah so it’s hard what about you successful people?
E: I think it’s really a really difficult question to answer and this topic is quite new to me so I think I need a bit of time to think about it but yeah I mean I would say the same in terms of my mum emotionally kind of her relationships with friends and family and I’ll say her career and we’ve always been very financially stable my parents aren’t millionaires but we’ve we’ve had a very good life and it’s been very comfortable yeah in terms of other areas of life I think that’s really hard I don’t think I have any one individually that I financially look for kind of inspiration or mentally yeah I think I need a bit more time to think
S: I suppose that’s the other thing you can pick all the parts of your life you think are really important and then look at people who are successful in that part yeah and then look at how you can work to become more like that person yeah you’ll never be and then hopefully you build a balance
E: yeah I guess for me the most important one of those kind of categories is probably mental hmm and I don’t think I have anyone that I would really think that’s us that’s why I try to be for other people
S: yeah hopefully you are well that was a pretty short podcast I think to the point and hopefully you can maybe take some ideas away from it I think that changing your concept of what is successful is is useful both for how you spend your time how you improve your life then also about not being unhealthily obsessed with celebrities or like people who really be successful in one area and really idolizing them so hopefully you’ll feel the same if not then uh drop me an email or let me know let me know where your opinion is as always I hope you found this useful and if did please leave me a five-star review and whatever you’re listening to this on iTunes or stitcher or whatever thank you very much