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I believe there are seven fundamentals or “benchmarks” in assessing one’s success in life.

Family: When all else seems transitory, family is forever. That secure base is vitally important in the world of ups, downs and uncertainty. It just makes good sense to give priority to these relationships. Do not jeopardize family by engaging in unethical behaviour.

Friends: The network of friends and associates you develop over your life will be critical to any success. I believe in the old saying that “you are assessed on the basis of the friends you keep”.

Finance: The absolute size of financial numbers is not significant because it depends on your choice of lifestyle. However, relative financial independence enhances freedom of philosophy and choice. If your entire objective is financial success and you do it at the expense of your family, health or reputation, is it worth it?

Career: A career in which you can take pride is important because, in the eyes of many people, it often defines who you are. If career becomes so important that you give up your friends and hurt your family, there is a large question mark around how successful you really are.

Health: It is obviously important to maintain a lifestyle that promotes good health. A positive attitude and a keen sense of humour are the best defenses I know against stress. On the other hand, behaving in ways you know are unprofessional or questionable is one of the fastest ways to negatively affect your health.

Infrastructure: Is a catch-all phrase that simply refers to all the support systems around you—your country, city, community, home, workplace, church, social clubs, charitable associations, family, friends and so on.

Reputation: In my view, reputation is the sum of your personal integrity and the professional ethics which you apply in your personal and business affairs. There is a great temptation in today’s world to take advantage of situations that may be technically legal, but basically, not ethical. That practice almost always leads to damaged reputations. In the final analysis, all you leave behind is your reputation.

The inter-relationships of these benchmarks is very important. Unless all seven are maintained in a responsible manner and are balanced against each other, I believe you will not be recognized as truly successful—at least, not by the Dick Haskayne definition!