What Incredible Women Have Taught Me About Success By Russ DeVan

Russ DeVan

I believe when  most people consider a topic such as “The Fundamentals of Success,” their focus goes to either the qualities that one needs  to pursue or attain success or what it means to be thought of as “successful.”

 Some thirty years ago, or slightly more, I started a company called Success by Design, the title of which, was a reaction to how I saw the “pursuit of success” in network marketing and the cultural paradigm that I believed hindered many from actually attaining it. As I will readily disclaim, all that follows are my opinions and observations, which of course doesn’t make any of them TRUE, necessarily. That’s the funny thing about paradigms…we don’t see’em!

Big house, nice cars, fat bank account, etc., etc….and there is NOTHING wrong with this! However, there is a reason for the old cliche “money can’t buy happiness” and I believe. that it is IMPOSSIBLE to be successful if you are not happy; fulfilled; or at peace; however you want to frame it. 

The Dalai Lama is often quoted to have said” “Man sacrifices his health in order to make money and then sacrifices his money in order to regain his health. As a result, he does not live in the present or the future. He lives as if he will never die and dies never having really lived.”

I believe wholeheartedly that success is truly a journey and not a destination and it is clarity of vision about how we see and define success that empowers and thrills us to press on with our commitments. I have been blessed by many gifted, kind, amazing teachers and mentors in my life, both men and women, but I’d like to take a moment and acknowledge what several powerful women have taught me about what it means to be successful.

Generosity.

 I suppose it would be possible to be successful and not be generous…but I don’t really see how. I’m sure there are those who “become” outwardly generous AFTER they have attained power, money, or prestige, but I say that generosity is an inherent trait of those who are successful. My mother, due to the enormous success of her entrepreneurial Father, was financially secure and quite independent. I was an adult before I realized how easy it would have been for her to ‘upstage” my wonderful Father; a gifted surgeon and success in his own right, but she NEVER did. Instead of competing or trying to cast a bigger shadow, she became the light that made his shadow even bigger. One of the things that I learned from Mom is that she gave, and gave, and gave, without expectation of return. She did it because it made her FEEL good to make someone else happy…And because she COULD! She consistently gave of herself to her three sons… constantly, indefatigably, and equally. I often wondered how I could ever show my appreciation or return such generosity. She would hold my hand or hug me and say that her life was an investment. and we, my brothers and I, were her “dividends.”

This may explain what partly attracted me to marry a woman so much like her.

 My wife, Karen, grew up in Syracuse, NY in a family of six children, and although it wasn’t poverty, at least by today’s standards, it wasn’t exactly steak three times a week and private school, either. And yet, even when I met her, at twenty-two, she was full of ambition and committed to having and providing choices for others that she never had. If she had it, she gave it without a second thought. Although many things have changed in the three and a half decades we’ve been together…this has remained a constant.  A more successful Mother, Aunt, Great Aunt, or friend, I’ve never known or seen. Testimonials are available on request.

Courage, Persistence, and Tenacity

Longer ago than I care to admit…25 years? I was conducting a LIVE seminar in Wales, when I met the most remarkable young woman and her husband, Martin. We “got on” immediately, as she might say, but how little I knew then how this petite Pakistani “sprite” with a pronounced English brogue. would TEACH me what toughness, guts, creativity, and unadulterated “moxie,” had to do with success. I may have initially shown her some new possibilities for how network marketing could work or be done, but what I got back over the next few decades inspired me in a way that I couldn’t have imagined. My dear friend, student, coach, mentor, teacher, and bestie for life, Ghazala Jabeen has redefined what it means to be successful in more ways than I can mention…but here are just a few. She survived an “honor killing” contract put on her life by family. She not only survived the loss of her soul mate, Martin to Pancreatic cancer, some nine years ago, but thrived, published a best selling book, honoring him and the experience of her loss, and was recently named as one of the 100 most successful and influential women on the planet!

 Ghaz Jabeen- “No.1 Marketing Machine and Bollywood Queen” are more than just titles, they are verbal “badges” to her spirit and accomplishments.

Here’s my point: Ghaz did not become successful to then become or be thought of as courageous, tenacious, bold, or persistent. She is successful because she IS THOSE THINGS ALREADY!

Whenever we talk or work together, my heart swells with pride just to know her, let alone still be the beneficiary of her wisdom, love, and friendship.

Creativity and yes, Love.

A long time ago, when I was formulating The Untraining and Success by Design, I was in a personal development program and one of the exercises was to find your life’s purpose.

I determined that mine was quite simple; To contribute love.

Just as I said earlier I didn’t think one could be considered a success without being “happy,” at peace, etc. It follows that part of being happy is having and being loved.

One of the most poignant scenes in The Wizard of Oz is when The Wizard, upon presenting a heart-shaped “watch/testimonial” to the Tin Man says: “Remember my sentimental friend, The true measure of a heart is not how much you love….it is by how much you are loved by others.”

I happen to think that our pursuit of success is also a pursuit of love.

It is deep in all of us, the desire, the need, to be loved. I really didn’t think I had much to learn in this area. Boy, was I wrong.

 Several years ago, on Facebook, I met a gifted artist and photographer named Deborah Neary. She was showing a painting she had done as an homage to her experience in Joe Vitale’s Ho’oponopono program.

It was easy to recognize her artistic talent and I quickly learned she was equally talented as a photographer. We became fast friends. Then business associates. Then BEST friends. And now, business partners, as she has agreed to be the illustrator of four, forthcoming books to be published soon.

 I nicknamed her “Neary Perfect”… which is now the name of her company. “Neary Perfect Solutions, LLC.

 One of Deb’s “super powers”…and she has several, is her “eye” for beauty. She uses love and listening to unconceal the best in people and images everywhere. She can walk through a forest, see a tree stump, moss, mushrooms, and a bird feather, and create “Puff the Magic Dragon!”

But it is her passionate appreciation for what she already has that is most admirable about Deb. The way she “revels” as a mother in the joys and experiences of her daughter Fiona and her Son, Liam. How she completely LOSES herself in a commissioned art project.

Her love for people and their diversity and her willingness/eagerness to explore new personal experiences, horizons, and growth are awe-inspiring.  Mother. Author, Artist. Entrepreneur. Explorer. Friend.

Success…..illustrated!

In summary, I have been blessed throughout my life with living examples of what I believe success truly is and looks like, both through wonderful men and women. 


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Russ DeVan
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