Success: A Head and Heart Perspective

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Success: a Head and Heart Perspective

Following some conversation with members of Business Women Australia, I was inspired to look at deeper, more meaningful measures of success. We have explored the concept of head and heart leadership. This really does put things into perspective when applied to goal setting and where to focus our efforts
Here are a few ideas on how I am approaching a more integrated Head and Heart achievement
framework. It is an evolving learning journey and food for thought. I’d love your input and ideas too.

Head (Practical Achievements with a Heart Twist):
Setting Goals with an Holistic approach: Define SMART goals – specific, measurable and achievable, realistic and time-based goals for yourself, just starting with one aspect of your life whether that is career, education, personal finance, purpose, health, relationships, business or other focus area. I find the Wheel of Life to be a really useful tool to provide an holistic overview of where things are at across my life so that I don’t just focus on the typical “Head” measures of success. I consider how I feel in my gut and in my heart across my overall wellbeing – comparing how I’d like to feel compared to what I am feeling now.

Measuring Progress: Track your progress towards the big goals that really matter is the best way to measure progress. I used to have a heap of goals to pursue and that led to a lot of measures I put in place and then fabulous “Head” success. However I was left feeling quite burnt out and I wasn’t allowing the space to be present to myself and those important to me. Using quantifiable metrics is useful but not the only way to measure progress. I love financial milestones, pay increase advancements, certificates gained but I also consider health, emotional wellbeing and the quality time I have for those I care about. Life is short, love and health are the keys to happiness – in my view.

Professional Recognition: Recognition from peers, clients, influential others, and the community is a tangible measure of success. Awards, promotions, and positive feedback has been a way I have measured my progress, however as I have got older these things are not so important. I believe that there is a place for this but that firstly I must recognise my own worth and give myself a pat on the back when I have learnt something, made a mistake and owned it. Recognising my own growth and celebrating the little steps I make each day has become so much more important than external accolades.

Financial Stability: Achieving a level of financial security that meets my needs and the needs of my family, supporting our young adult children to finish their studies and live independent lives is one of the key measures of success in my book. I think this comes from the fact that my dad passed when I was a teenager and so financial stability was a core need at a young age. To be able to pursue my social enterprise goals, and keep Business Women Australia operating without worry has definitely been a marker of success for me. Wealth to have choices, rather than money for status is my thing. I love hearing the money stories of other women in the community and what financial goals they set for themselves, and why – everyone is different so it is refreshing to be part of these conversations.

Material Achievements: Accomplishments such as owning a home, having a healthy share portfolio, running a business, being made an equity partner, getting a big pay rise or reaching a certain level of wealth are often considered to be measures of success. However I find that when women sit in circle and discuss success they rarely mention these things. I love the Funeral Exercise that originated from Stephen Covey’s book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.” If you haven’t read it, please do. The Funeral Exercise is not a morbid thing to do. It can literally change your life as it gets you to “Begin with the end in mind”. Plan your funeral and write your own eulogy – how would you like to be remembered, what would you like your friends and family to say about you, how do you want your colleagues and others to describe you and your life.

Heart Based Measures of Success
So this all has got me thinking about where the heart based feelings sit when measuring success. I reckon these are the Purpose, Spiritual and Values based aspects of my life that really are the deeper, more valuable measures for me and my wellbeing. This is only the start of a list that will evolve and I’d love to hear what you would add, and what resonates with you.

Alignment with Values: I know that when I am feeling fulfilled and most successful is when my actions align with my core values and beliefs. I have done a few values exercises to see what comes up for me, as someone did ask me what they were and this was really helpful and has shaped where I focus my goal setting and time.

Meaningful Relationships: Cultivating deep and meaningful relationships with friends, family, and loved ones can bring a sense of fulfilment and happiness – heart based measures of success. I never regret spending time with the people I like. Whenever I come away from a Business Women Australia event I always feel like my cup is full, my heart warm, a smile on my face and knowledge that I have good friends all around the nation.

Personal Growth: Continuously learning, evolving, and becoming the best version of yourself can be deeply satisfying and a great measure of success. When I consider this from a Heart, rather than Head perspective, the learning that I look for in myself includes things like being a better listener, being more open to feedback, having the courage to say sorry, not being defensive, talking less, stop fixing and advising all the time and being more curious, less judgemental. Slowing down and not rushing is another goal I set myself recently, following a couple of rushed, clumsy mistakes I made. If I can include more micro moments of  mindfulness, moving every hour to strength and to breathe more deeply in my day at work, this will be a great measure of success for me.

Sense of Purpose: Having a sense of purpose or a mission that gives meaning to life beyond material success can be fulfilling and will definitely lead to a feeling of success in my view. This includes things like contributing to a cause or even making a positive impact on others. I love seeing the support that women are giving each other in the Business Women Australia community. It reminds me that the reason why this collective was founded back in 2015 was to provide a platform and place for women to help each other achieve their goals and dreams. My sense of purpose, and that of my fellow members, is this shared mission and it is wonderful.

Work-Life Balance or Juggling with Joy: Achieving a feeling that there is some balance between all the juggles of often competing commitments of work, leisure, and personal time is one of those measures of success that is also essential for our well-being. I have what I call a joy barometer. If I don’t enjoy doing something I question whether I really need to do it or if I can do it in a way that can bring me a benefit e.g. even taking out the bins, I stop to admire the little nest being built by the willy wagtails in the tree at the front of our house. I set boundaries and use my calendar very effectively using Calendly as an effective way for others to see when I am available to book themselves in for meetings. I have also blocked out time to do important projects and plans, to setting time aside for my health and wellbeing too. Like many working women I juggle a diverse portfolio, plus there are things I do with Business Women Australia, with my own clients in my consulting practice, and I have a large family on both sides. Managing expectations is the key to everyone’s happiness and a great measure of this area of Heart based success.

Embracing Head and Heart Success:
In summary there are some easily implemented actions and behaviours that help integrate more Head and Heart outcomes if this is resonating with you in your growth journey.

Reflection: Regularly reflecting on both the practical achievements and personal fulfilment
measures provides that time out to consider how things are tracking from a more holistic
perspective. I ask myself, if I am feeling satisfied both intellectually and emotionally. I may not
always feel happy, but am I okay with my personal and professional learning, growth and transformations, even if only small?

Adjust Goals: Using the Wheel of Life each month, you may find that your goals are not bringing you the happiness or fulfilment you desire. Courage to change course, consider new ways forward and embracing one small step in a different direction is sometimes required. I try not to be afraid to adjust my goals to better align with my values and passions as new information arises, or I feel that something is not sitting right with me, in my heart.

Celebrate even tiny Milestones: Celebrate not only the practical achievements but also the personal growth, the stuff ups, mistakes and all the feelings that come with lessons learnt along the way. Some of the members of Business Women Australia love to remind me of this and it makes me smile as any journey will always have things that don’t always go to plan, and I do make plenty of mistakes.

Seek what fills your cup: Aim for measures of success that align with your whole sense of self. I find when pursuing practical success I look at what makes my heart sing, and nurtures my emotional well-being. For me, success is not just about what I achieve but how I feel about myself and my life – and how I have behaved with those I am interacting with.
By integrating both head and heart aspects into your definition of success, you can create a more holistic and fulfilling approach to achieving goals and living a meaningful life.

These are the sorts of leadership topics we delve into at business women Australia events, webinars and in-person group meetings. I’d love to see you connect with us and join our community. See the events coming up on the Calendar HERE. Reach out if you have any questions. My contact details are HERE. New Members are always welcome. To find out more head to JOIN US HERE.


Lyn Hawkins is the National Director and Founder of Business Women Australia. She is an
experienced management consultant in the areas of strategy, marketing and business development.
Lyn advises some of Australia’s most successful professional firms and business leadership teams. She is also a qualified Leadership and Executive Coach, the WA Director of the Private Wealth Network and mentors Commerce students at UWA. Lyn has held a number of board roles and senior executive roles with KPMG, HHG Legal Group, HLB Mann Judd and Telstra, in addition to General Management within the technology-based sector.

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