In service of what?
Research (and lots of it!) tells us that how we think about happiness and success is backward; that happiness is not the result of success, but rather, success is the result of happiness.
So, is the pursuit of happiness, along with the pursuit of our dreams and aspirations, an end to itself? A means to an end?
In my experience, this pursuit leads to less happiness (and less success), not more.
Interestingly, the more powerful question is: In service of what? What meaning? What purpose? What impact in the world?
It is this sense of making a dent in the Universe that pulls us forward, gives us grit, and allows us to take risks and endure failure. It is the gas in our tank and the bounce in our step.
Fiercely aligning with who you are - your strengths, your values, your ideas and aspirations - is hard work! When success is the goal, it just stays hard work. We even call it grunt work, nose-to-the-grindstone work, and other such uninspiring references. (Who'd want to do that?)
Yet, when you align with your "why," you do all that work, and more, as a passionate expression of who you are. The hard work is not how you get there, it is the natural expression of being there.
Being a Dad has often involved hard work, but has never been hard work. Speaking from the stage requires endless hours of preparation so it can feel effortless - which is exactly how it feels once I'm there.
This is the "payoff" of aligning boldly and fiercely with who you are. It is crazy-hard, risky and uncertain. And, as momentum takes over, it feels like art instead of work, living instead of laboring.
And here's the craziest part. Aligning with who you really are always means aligning with something bigger than you - and that not only leaves a marvelous dent in the Universe, but creates ripples that reach far beyond your wildest dreams.
All about you, so it can become bigger than you. So worth the risk.