The Truth about Success That Nobody Is Telling You | Former Equinox President Sarah Robb O’Hagan

What do successful people have in common? They’re not satisfied with success. After winning an Olympic gold medal, or filling one the nation’s top offices “they would then say, ‘Okay, I’m restless to get more out of myself and I want to break myself down and take on the next challenge’,” explains Sarah Robb O’Hagan, an overachiever herself. However that’s only one side of the story, and it’s something O’Hagan grows conscious of every time she’s introduced at a conference or reads articles about her work: people always play the highlight reel of her career, but it never shows the full picture. According to O’Hagan, the other thing successful people have in common is that they struggled into success.

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Transcript: I think that the wonderful thing that I learned writing the book Extreme You and interviewing some of the most extraordinarily successful people in the world—I mean everyone from Condoleezza Rice to Bode Miller the downhill skier, Mister Cartoon who is a tattoo artist—I’ve interviewed people from all walks of life who have achieved incredible success in very different areas.

And what I found with all of them is that even when they achieved success like what most of us would consider the pinnacle. I mean an Olympic gold medal is about as good as it gets, right? They would then say, “Okay, I’m restless to get more out of myself and I want to break myself down and take on the next challenge.”

And that, to me, was pretty spectacular to see. It’s like for them success is not a goal, it’s just an ongoing journey. And every time they achieve something they realize that there’s more of their own potential to unlock.

So to be Extreme You is to be maximizing every aspect of your own personal potential, and that means really understanding who you are, what are your unique gifts, what are your idiosyncrasies, what are the funny things about you, what blows your hair back and makes you feel amazing?

And the polar opposite is when you find yourself in an organization that just doesn’t sort of fit with who you are and you’re having to edit yourself in and try not to get into trouble or do things the wrong way.

So it feels pretty amazing to be Extreme You, and it also is generally a place when you are kind of pushing yourself outside your comfort zone. Like you have the confidence to take on bigger challenges and things that you haven’t done because you know that you’re playing to your strengths.

So the first thing I definitely say is, it’s about what I call “checking yourself out”. And that means like really understanding what you love and what your greatest skills are.

And it’s funny, like there’s a lot of media around there today saying to young people, you know, “Find your passion and then you’ll be happy.” And I’m like, “You can’t do a Google search and find your passion!”

You actually have to get out there and try stuff, you know? And get in there and really try it. Do it. Like experience all sorts of different things. Because that’s when you’ll notice where you really shine and frankly where you suck.

The reason I actually wrote this book in the first place is I found myself in my late 30s. I had finally, finally achieved some what society would consider successes in my career. I had led the turnaround of a five-billion dollar business as its president which is obviously no small feat. And I started seeing articles that were written that would refer to me, or my bio read out when I’m giving a speech. And it would say, ‘She did this great thing, She did that great thing, She led this company. She’s being called this in the media. She’s amazing.” And I literally would sit there squirming in my chair going, “Oh my god. No one’s telling the truth!!”

And I totally proved my case, because what I found in the book—and I effectively codified it into a method of how you get the best out of yourself—was that every successful person in the world did not start knowing that they were going to get there. Pretty much every one of them did not start with these natural god-given talents. Most of them ended up succeeding in a field that was completely different to what they originally expected. So it was a real story of willingness to experience and try things and then eventually figure out where you’re going to thrive.

And I think the last lesson in all of it was that even those experiences early on where you feel like you’ve put X number of years into the wrong career or you’re going in the wrong direction, even when you change directions those early experiences actually contribute to what becomes a great success, and nothing is wasted.



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