In his book Beyond Success: Redefining the Meaning of Prosperity, Jeffrey L. Gitterman explains that he likes to open his seminars by asking audience members “what the definition of money means to them.” Upon reading this particular passage, I took the time to reflect upon what money means to me. According to Mr. Gitterman, I am not alone in my belief that money equates to freedom and security. After all, money makes the world go round, and, to quote financier Gordon Gekko in Oliver Stone’s movie Wall Street, “what’s worth doing is worth doing for money.”
Gitterman explains that money is simply a means of exchange, and yet we act as if it is a clearcut path to all of our wants and desires. To put it simply, money does not equal happiness, nor should we define our success based on how much money we make. Beyond Success is an eye-opening experience that focuses on our definitions of success and the way they tie into the great existential dilemma.
“What is my purpose in life?”
“How can I be permanently happy?”
We ask ourselves these questions all the time, but fall into the traps that force us to believe that money and material items will fill the empty void within. Jeffrey Gitterman uses Beyond Success as a blueprint for how we can move beyond the standard definitions of money and happiness. He suggests we can find prosperity through spirituality and focusing our attention on how using our energy more purposefully. Using his Four Pillar plan, Gitterman provides us with four steps to connect and redirect our energies toward the type of personal fulfillment that money cannot buy.
There are bound to be skeptics who pick up this book, since the idea of finding true happiness seems to be a futile effort in this day and age. In the world of self-help, where everyone is a guru pushing their spiritual and religious beliefs and agendas, some may look at the cover of Beyond Success and say to themselves, “yeah right, like some book is really going to help me to be successful.” Gitterman suggests we are misdirecting our energy and settling for the abysmal trappings we have created for ourselves. Why put any effort into a self-help book? Why bother taking up yoga when the instant gratification of buying a new 3D high-definition LCD television is far greater? We are setting our sights on shiny, new toys because we are in a culture where bigger is better. In the end, the item we purchase or the lofty goals we set are never as fantastic when we obtain them because the thrill really takes place in the initial chase.
These basic ideas are logical and that says a lot about how Beyond Success unfolds. It never sounds preachy or pretentious, nor does it have any underlying hidden agenda like converting the reader to a certain religion or philosophy. Jeffrey Gitterman speaks to the common person in a conversational tone that one can easily connect with. Like an older brother giving advice, he is simply sharing his experiences and success stories in a modest and positive way. Everything he discusses is based on his own experiential learning, parallels to his work as a financial planner, and his longing to help others who may be stuck in a similar, existential situation as he once was.
There are moments in Beyond Success where readers might find themselves wanting to skip to the next chapter, but it is not because of the content — moreso the practice of several meditation and breathing exercises. The idea of stopping in the middle of a book to perform techniques such as closing your eyes and imagining your thoughts drifting by like twigs on a running stream may seem rather disruptive. However, no one is twisting your arm to participate. They are simply exercises that Gitterman suggests will help in controlling those daily stressors that run through your mind when you are trying to get a good night’s sleep. Feel free to perform these techniques as you go or, as I did, bookmark these particular sections of the book to follow up with at a more convenient time.
All in all, Beyond Success leaves readers in a much better place than when they begin the journey into redefining the meaning of prosperity. After turning the final page, I was left feeling rejuvenated and more focused, especially when I did perform the exercises throughout the book. The ideas are delivered delicately and encompass such common sense that readers will find themselves nodding their heads in agreement from start to finish. Jeffrey Gitterman has found an audience with those struggling with the great existential dilemma in modern living, and his message is that prosperity is not found solely in the power of the almighty dollar, but the use of our energy in a positive way that sparks purpose and gives back to the ones we love and the world around us.
Beyond Success: Redefining the Meaning of Prosperity
By Jeffrey L. Gitterman
AMACOM: May 2009
Hardcover, 240 pages