It’s important to understand that in our culture everything we’ve been taught about success is backwards in a number of ways.

First, we’ve got it set up that we have to be successful before we can be happy. We have to work hard, put in crazy hours, grind it out, and achieve what we set out to achieve (and maybe suffer a little along the way) before we deserve to be happy.

Researchers at Harvard discovered that happiness is the key to all of the qualities that make someone successful, like the ability to see opportunities, make good decisions, and persuade others. They found that only 25% of job success can be predicted by I.Q. But 75% of job success can be predicted by your optimism level, the strength of your social support, and your ability to see stress as a challenge rather than a threat. If you are waiting to be happy until you are successful, you’ll be swimming upstream the whole way.

Next, we’ve said that a good education is the surest way to a successful career. But many of the most successful people through history, from Abraham Lincoln to Andrew Carnegie, barely completed high school. And besides the 14-year old CEO’s that are making their mark without college degrees today, we’ve got billionaires like: Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple (dropped out of college) and Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Records, Virgin Atlantic Airways, Virgin Mobile, and more (dropped out of high school at 16).

Our culture also has it backwards in how most young people are told to find the career that will ensure their financial success. In other words, “Follow the Money”. First, they are told to go for one of the “professions” and become a doctor, accountant, engineer, or attorney. If they aren’t qualified for that, they’re counseled to look at the job market and follow the trends in current hot industries and jobs.

Many people “followed the money” and chose jobs that seemed promising without even considering whether or not they would really like their chosen career. This happens even more in challenging economic times: People are focused on getting a paycheck, not on finding a satisfying career. But the stress that is caused by people being in jobs that they hate affects everything from their attitudes and productivity to their home lives, their immune systems and their ability to really succeed. In reality, you need to be happy to succeed.

Your true success depends on what’s inside of you: your passions, strengths, and purpose; your character and desire; your willingness and your mindset (which we’ll talk about in the next chapter). When you tap the power of those things and design your career around them, I guarantee that you will be successful. I don’t guarantee that you will build a multi-billion dollar empire (unless your desire is strong enough to do so) with all the trappings of extreme wealth.

Read my book, Cracking the Flourishing Code today to help you define your true success.