LETTERS TO DUBAI: BEYOND SUCCESS

Dear Dubai,

From my vantage point, I see you soar again!  Milestone after milestone, creating and breaking records on and on, and traversing one peak to another – do you still have a moment to breathe and rest?   

After successfully staging the Dubai World Expo for six full months as we recover from the two-year pandemic and resuming practical normalcy (plus Victor Magazine’s 1st anniversary, hats off to our editorial team and readers!), you’ve just impressed and made the world marvel again to how you can pull off these earth shattering stunts!  

While the never-ending global drama starts a new chapter with the geopolitical crisis in Ukraine and we witness (and feel) its heartbreaking implications to our everyday, you’re presenting yourself as one unshaken, formidable piece – a picture of true success!  While I try to fathom your enigmatic exuberance, makes me wonder – what’s in your core over and beyond the glorious and aspirational success?    

While we all get into the groove of rising (and literally masking off) again and carving new pivotal beginnings in our family, career, and social lives, let me take this opportunity to nudge and invite you to critically reflect as you map out your next steps to navigate the rat race (in case you’d still chose to sign up for it).  Time to again answer that existential question whether adding feather in one’s cap is what truly matters along with one’s pursuit of happiness anchored to our long list of physical needs (or perhaps purely classified as wants).  

Revisiting humanistic psychologist Abraham Maslow’s 79-year-old theory on ‘Hierarchy of Needs’, success may be categorized under the fourth stage that’s zooming in on esteem or one’s psychological need for appreciation and respect fueled by accomplishment that results to recognition, validation, and prestige.  Highly debatable, but based on theory, reaching this stage means one has surpassed the three earlier stages of fulfilling survival (food, shelter, clothing), basic (financial security, health, wellness) and social (love, acceptance, belongingness) needs.  Assuming that the sequential hypothesis is true, what’s critical is to understand that there’s a fifth stage that we all should be aiming for – self-actualization.  

Imagine yourself living fully grounded to accepting your authenticity, practicing your values and not being disturbed by the deafening snares or dictates of the noisy world while reaching your full potential as you hone in on every moment to be of value.  This for me is the true hallmark of self-actualization – going beyond yourself, your ego, your selfish intentions; a true fulfilling life hinged on a deeper purpose over power and prestige.    

Once more, let’s humble ourselves and ask if our bountiful feasts, money in bank accounts, Instagram-worthy swanky OOTDs, fancy job titles, sculptured abs, to-die-for relationships, and sought-after advocacies define who we truly are.  More importantly, our why’s for claiming them and devoting our 24 hours to bring them to life.  If we have yet to climb the self-actualization mountain, are we ready to let go of esteem and leapfrog to a purposeful and value-driven life focused in making a difference by unselfishly and intentionally giving our best version to others and the world around us?

If you haven’t already, watch Robert Waldinger’s ‘What makes a good life’ TED talk on YouTube as he unearths Harvard University’s 75-year study on what really makes a happy life.  Spoiler alert: it’s not how we superficially define ‘success’ today.

May this thought-provoking letter inspire you to pause and motivate you to answer the ‘no right or wrong answer’ questions by unapologetically living what you choose meaningfully.

And to close, I meant to ask – how are you?   

Always inspiring,

Joseph

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