Rhonda Sciortino & Jenny Christiansen On How We Need To Redefine Success

Wellness: Our wellness is a direct result of a positive mindset. A positive mindset is a natural outcome of having healthy relationships, peace, joy, and financial provision in our lives. Have you ever noticed how often we equate success with more? Whether that’s more products, more profits, more activities or more accomplishments, we buy into the […]

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Wellness: Our wellness is a direct result of a positive mindset. A positive mindset is a natural outcome of having healthy relationships, peace, joy, and financial provision in our lives.


Have you ever noticed how often we equate success with more? Whether that’s more products, more profits, more activities or more accomplishments, we buy into the belief that we have to do more to have more to be more. And that will sum up to success. And then along comes The Great Resignation. Where employees are signaling that the “more” that’s being offered — even more pay, more perks, and more PTO — isn’t summing up to success for them. We visited with leaders who are redefining what success means now. Their answers might surprise you.

As a part of this series, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Rhonda Sciortino & Jenny Christiansen.

Rhonda Sciortino and Jenny Christiansen work together to deliver the YOUR REAL SUCCESS© program to everyone who wants to find authentic success. They share a passion to invest in people. Rhonda is a successful survivor of childhood abuse, an entrepreneur, author, and speaker. Jenny is a Certified Life Coach, a 25-year educator, and a motivational speaker. They want people to understand and believe that they are significant and designed for a special purpose in the world.


Thank you for making time to visit with us about the topic of our time. Our readers would like to get to know you a bit better. Can you please tell us about one or two life experiences that most shaped who you are today?

For both of us, some of our most impactful and life shaping experiences have centered around losing someone or something. Prior to these unforeseen circumstances we considered ourselves “successful” in our fields, but what followed was pain and unexpected changes. Before we experienced our life-shifting losses, we thought we could control life’s circumstances. We both learned that we cannot. Difficulties, loss, and the inevitable grief that follows are inevitable. The good news is that loss is a great teacher.

Unfortunately, lots of people conflate loss with being a failure, a loser, or at the very least, less than successful. We’re here to say that loss of your job, loss of your marriage, loss of your income, or any of the other losses that we experience are NOT identifiers of personal or professional success.

As we each healed and came through our experiences of loss and grief, we mined the lessons out of what we had been through. Although the types of losses we individually experienced were very different, what we found on the other side of loss was very similar.

We learned that we were stronger and more resilient than we had ever thought we were. We became more aware of and empathetic toward the sufferings of others. We found that we were uniquely qualified to reach back and help others on the paths that we were previously on. We gained a resolve to share the real truth that real success is not based on money, popularity, status, good looks, power, or on what we have achieved. Rather, authentic success is finding and fulfilling the unique purpose for which each of us has been born and perfectly matched.

We all have myths and misconceptions about success. What are some myths or misconceptions that you used to believe?

The common myths and misconceptions that are a trap for many include these most common ones:

If you have enough money you will be both content and happy.

You can be anything you want to be.

Whatever you “feel” like doing you should do.

If I influence culture I am successful.

Accomplishment means you are smart and successful.

Acquiring a particular job title equates to success.

Fame equals success.

Once you have experienced success you will ALWAYS be successful.

I (Rhonda) chased many of these myths from the time I left foster care at the age of 16. I worked hard to make money. I would do just about anything to get people to like and accept me. I achieved goal and after goal. I believed that I could do anything I wanted to do (I never was able to become the forward for the Lakers or the QB for the Raiders — see the problem with that thinking?) I felt that I could do, eat, buy, etc. anything I wanted because “I earned it, I deserved it and I wanted it.” I started my own company, and built it into a nationwide, mission-driven company, with me proudly carrying the title of CEO (AKA “large and in charge”). When the planes flew into the World Trade Center in NYC on 9/11, where my newly formed insurance company was located, I lost everything that I had worked so hard for. I learned in a devastating way that once you have achieved success, there are no guarantees that you will always have it.

How has your definition of success changed?

Real Success is the fulfillment of our unique purpose.

Your purpose is discoverable and your real success is attainable.

Real Success is using what you have (talents, skills, treasure, etc.) to make a positive impact in the world.

Real Success always involves helping others.

Real Success is counter-cultural.

Real Success is not defined by money, status, fame, or accomplishment.

Real Success begins by understanding and embracing who you really are.

The pandemic, in many ways, was a time of collective self-reflection. What changes do you believe we need to make as a society to access success post pandemic?

Never lose hope.

Difficulties are inevitable, but we can survive hard things and emerge successfully from them.

We can start over building on what we’ve learned from all we’ve been through.

Access your resilience within to dust off and move forward.

Carefully examine your mindset, choose to be positive and joyful.

Gain strength from faith, hope and love.

Maintain communication with others.

Find at least one person who believes in you and in your worth and value.

What do you see as the unexpected positives in the pandemic? We would love to hear a few of your stories or examples.

Some of the unexpected positives that came from the pandemic include the fact that almost all of us are now far more open to electronic communication (think Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, etc.). This allows us to connect with people who we would have had to get on a plane and travel for hours to talk with.

We can more easily collect the cultural knowledge from the elders of our lives. This makes knowing and understanding our histories, family recipes, and wisdom more possible.

We have learned that we can live through aloneness.

We have seen the power of resilience, which is not only possible but critical as we move forward.

Many of us finally got off the hamster wheel of life, and took assessment of our lives.

Many formed healthier habits.

Some families spent more time together than they ever had before.

Many of us learned that we can emerge stronger when we go through hard things.

Many learned to tap into our inner strength and tenacity to keep going.

When our nation shut down and parents were scrambling to educate their children, people were losing their jobs and income through no fault of their own, and we heard that domestic violence and child abuse were on the rise, we shifted into gear and began doing a weekday Facebook Live broadcast called LIVE, LOVE, SURVIVE AND THRIVE. We reached out to subject matter experts around the country in the areas of mental health, education, child welfare and more to join us to share their wisdom about what people could do to successfully get through the crisis. Every week we had a different theme that got right to the heart of what individuals and families were struggling through. The videos for all of those episodes are on YouTube . The audio from all those episodes are on our podcast.

Now that we have collectively settled to a new normal, we’ve revised the name of our podcast to FIND YOUR PURPOSE, because our real success, with the happiness, peace, and contentedness that accompanies it, all comes down to finding and fulfilling the unique purpose for which we were each born and perfectly matched. When we find that, the pieces of our lives start to fall into place.

We’re all looking for answers about how to be successful now. Could you please share “5 Ways To Redefine Success Now?” (Please share a story or example for each.)

Real Success is measured by these five facets:

  1. Healthy relationships: Healthy relationships with good people meet our primal need of belonging and of being valued and wanted. One good relationship can disintegrate the feelings of aloneness and being misunderstood that can be painful down to our soul.
  2. Peace: Carrying peace within ourselves eliminates our natural human tendency to compare ourselves and to compete with others. Having peace within ourselves allows us to celebrate others without feeling as though we are not enough.
  3. Joy: Choosing joy over all the opportunities we have for sadness literally reduces feelings of stress and anxiety.
  4. Financial sustainability: When we live out our purpose through our work, we are getting paid to do the things that give us the greatest sense of satisfaction. This eliminates the vague sense of dissatisfaction that lingers throughout life for those who never find their purpose. Getting paid to do what we were made to do eliminates the desire to buy things we don’t need to impress people we don’t know. When we get off the cycle of comparison and competition, we keep more of what we earn.
  5. Wellness: Our wellness is a direct result of a positive mindset. A positive mindset is a natural outcome of having healthy relationships, peace, joy, and financial provision in our lives.

The irony is that each of these aspects of real success are natural consequences of a positive mindset. Think about it — the kind of people we want in our lives don’t want to be with “Negative Nellies” (the opposite of positive people); they don’t want to be with people who are always caught up in drama, chaos, and dysfunction (the opposite of peace); they find it emotionally draining to spend a lot of time with people who are sad, stressed out, or overly anxious (the opposite of being joyful); and they can find it challenging to spend time with people who are always broke and stressed out about it (the opposite of having financial sustainability). When we have a positive mindset, we naturally attract people who also live with a sense of positivity and optimism.

Adopting this definition of Real Success is the first step to a positive mindset. Your intentionally positive mindset will lead you to healthy relationships with good people, peace, joy, financial sustainability, and a sense of wellness that will enrich your life in ways you may have never thought possible.

How would our lives improve if we changed our definition of success?

Here are “The Big Five” problems that are resolved when we change our definition of success:

1. Being alone. It is not only the pandemic that has caused people to feel alone in the world. Negative experiences, health issues, and changes in our circumstances can thrust us into feeling lonely and unsuccessful. Even though we may know others have gone through the same thing, when we go through difficulties, our emotions can drive us to a place of profound sadness, depression and even desperation. One of the ways to disconnect from these feelings is to engage in HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS. What is a healthy relationship? It looks like a person who listens and truly hears you, a person who encourages you and cares about your circumstances. A healthy relationship is encouraging and uplifting.

2. We can’t live up to the worlds standards or others’ definitions of success. Comparison has a devastating impact on our sense of self, our wellness, and our lives overall. When it comes to success, we often use what others have accomplished as a gauge for OUR success. There is rampant cultural pressure to do more, be more and make more than others. The consequence is that comparison becomes competition. Competition is reserved for a sporting event, not our purpose or level of success. If we live in a perpetual state of chasing what other people have, we cannot live in the purpose for which we were designed. We all want PEACE. Chasing behind someone else will not translate into our success. It’s fine to have role models and to set goals, but never lose your peace over trying to be like someone else (or worse — trying to BE someone else). Living in our purpose will bring not only contentment, but peace and joy and a sense of self-esteem that cannot be attained while trying to live up to the standards of others.

3. Feeling misunderstood. What we believe about ourselves and our circumstances is important. We can often slip into feelings such as “I am not successful,” “I am not capable,” or “I am never going to make anything of my life.” But even more difficult is the belief that no one understands me or is there for me. This translates to sadness and little or no joy. JOY is a deep, hopeful, sustainable way of being that is so much deeper than a superficial feeling. It is possible to choose and live with joy by embracing our authentic identity and purpose.

4. Not enough money. Cultural messages often focus on money and the attainment of it. Money is a necessary tool, but it can divide us and do tremendous harm to our lives when we use it as a measurement of our success. The perception that having a certain amount of money equates to success or that our worth and value as a person is measured by money is flat wrong. When we discover and follow the path to our unique purpose, we will find the financial stability we need.

5. Negative mindset. When we look in the mirror, we comb our hair, brush our teeth and check to see if our outfit matches. Have you ever looked in the mirror and asked yourself “What am I thinking about?” Taking a real, honest assessment of our thought patterns and our beliefs can open the pathway to our success. Our overall wellness is not just about exercise, a good diet and drinking the right amount of water every day. WELLNESS is also about an ordered, consistent positive mindset.

What’s the biggest obstacle that stands in the way of our redefined success? And what advice would you offer about overcoming those obstacles?

The biggest obstacles to us redefining success are the cultural pressures of what the world calls success, comparing ourselves to others, feeling inadequate, and even self-loathing.

Our best advice to overcoming all of this is a mindset change to adopt the belief in the very simple and true definition that real success is living in our authentic identity and living out the unique purpose for which we were born and perfectly matched.

Where do you go to look for inspiration and information about how to redefine success?

We are people of faith in God, so we believe in the power of prayer and in what the Bible reveals to us about who we are, and about the good purposes for our lives. In addition, we read books and listen to podcasts by people who share the messages of wisdom that have been entrusted to them.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He, she or they might just see this if we tag them.

As we think about the people in our culture who are tuned into real success and purpose, the names that come to mind are Rick Warren, Oprah Winfrey, Jay Shetty, and Jon Tyson. We would be ecstatic to have a conversation with any of of them.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

We feel so strongly about helping people redefine success that we do YOUR REAL SUCCESS group coaching that helps people find their purpose in community with other like-minded people. We also facilitate retreats to help others find their purpose and to attain real success. There is also the FIND YOUR PURPOSE Podcast. We’re also working on an app that will bring all of our resources together in one easily accessible place.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this. We wish you continued success and good health.

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