The Path From Survival to Significance

I was blown away by many of the presenters at our recent Peak Prosperity seminar. But Joe Stumpf left the biggest impression on me.

Joe is a good friend and mentor of my business partner Adam Taggart. Eager to introduce the Peak Prosperity tribe to Joe’s intellectual and motivational firepower, Adam invited Joe to be a featured speaker for our event. Thank goodness he accepted.

Simply put: Joe is a force of nature. At age 54, he participated in Kokoro Camp which exactly mirrors the infamous Seal Team “hell week.” Along with dozens of much younger men, most in their late teens and early twenties, he put himself through living hell. While the majority of the entrants didn’t make it to the end, Joe became the oldest person to ever pass the challenge.

In 2016 he set out to train for and win his age class in the CrossFit Games. Only 20 people world over make the cut. He trained 5 days a week, sometimes 2x per day, ate a strict paleo diet … and … made the cut. One year later he was ranked 12th in the world, and 9th in the US for his age class.

When Joe decides to do something, he sets the goal and then figures out the processes necessary to get him there.

His most significant work in the world is as a life coach and mentor to real estate professionals. The lessons he shares with his tribe apply anywhere, and they apply and work just as well for ours.

(If you want to watch Joe’s inspiring session from our seminar, as well as all the other presentations from the 3-day event, for the first time ever we’re offering a video of the entire seminar, which you can purchase here.)

Out of the many things Joe brought that day, the part I’d most like to share with you today is his Four-S framework which captures a person’s stages of growth as they move from Survival to Stability, then on to Success, and finally to Significance.

<img class=“aligncenter wp-image-368018 size-large” src=“” alt="“Survival To Significance” width=“1024” height=“583” />

When you’re in Survival mode, you’re only concerned about making it through the day. You’re juggling too many bills against too little income. An emergency (like an unexpected job loss, accident, injury, etc) could actually put your welfare in serious jeopardy.

Stability happens when your income matches or even slightly exceeds your bills. Stability happens when we finally take responsibility for creating our own security. Our lives are relatively calm, we have good relationships, and our days are relatively calm. When in Stability, we have the time to lift our heads, look around, and begin to plan and build our way to Success.

Success results when we apply ourselves and begin to approach our work from a place of service and joy. We have become the master of our niche, and deliver exceptional services or products as our monetary works. The money just happens, opportunities are abundant, and there’s usually more of both than you can use at any one time. Many people aim for success and stop there, because they haven’t thought through the next stage – Significance.

Significance means operating from a place of love and service, touching people deeply, and being the beacon that draws other people towards significance, just as you were touched and mentored by others before. Significance is more about the being than the doing. Who are you? What are your gifts, and what animates you passionately?

As you can tell, Joe’s model aligns just brilliantly with our own work over the years, and with his permission, we’re adopting it here to overlay across our own eight forms of capital. Together, they provide a very tidy framework for asking where you are in different areas of your life and then setting goals to move you through each stage of development.

Adam created an extremely useful matrix of exactly this, which he piloted with the audience at this year’s seminar. The feedback we received on this new framework as a valuable way to zero in on your next actionable priorities, has been extremely positive.

For example, you might self-diagnose as being in survival for social capital because you don’t really know the people around you all that well. Maybe you just moved or, like me, are more of an introvert and recharging means staying home.

But you might be at the far end of Success financially and have begun to wonder what Significance might look and feel like there. How will you use your ample funds? What does the world most need at this time?

I raise all this because I’m personally excited to share this new framework, and because it comes not a moment too soon. The stresses are building, the strains are apparent, and no matter how many times the media says the economy is doing great implying that we must be doing great too, most people know this isn’t actually the case.

As we’ve reported on extensively, the levels of sadness, depression, nay demoralization, concern, worry and even dread are at all time highs and rising. People are unhappy and there are only three things you can do about it.

Your Three Choices

The first thing you can do is to drop out. You can decide that the news is just a bummer and go on an information fast, tune out the din of bad news, and focus on things that make you happy. Or maybe take a different approach and numb out. Drink more, play video games, maybe get hooked on opiates.

You might buy a cabin in a beautiful spot and just live there, secure in the idea that there wasn’t much you could do in the first place, so you might as well be content and nourished. There’s no harm in that, right?

Many have already made this choice and I don’t worry about offending them here because in all likelihood they won’t be reading this in the first place.

The second thing you could do is to join the party. If the powers that be are going to pour money into the markets to print up some happy high stock prices so that people will borrow and buy more stuff then you might as well join in.

Grab the dollars as fast as you can, plow your energy into growing some sort of a business, and maybe travel the world using the proceeds from your success. Become a powerful defender and advocate of the status quo. Who knows, it might be possible that some technological solution to every one of today’s problems and predicaments can be found? If so, by joining the party you are helping to make that become a reality all the faster, right?

The third option is to enter the fight. Recognize that there’s a huge predicament before us and that you have but one life to live. Find your gifts, and put them fearlessly out into the world without any hope that success is an assured outcome even if you try really hard.

There’s a great transition underway and you might as well get in there, roll up your sleeves, and do what you can. This is the choice that I made and I fight each day in ways large and small. I leave snarky comments on Twitter for no good reason besides they might amuse someone else, and you never know, they might let another person out there know they are not alone. Like this one:

<img class=“aligncenter” src=“” alt="“Peak Prosperity tweet” width=“580” height=“319” />

And I read and write and create new content each and every day as I try to show people the data that says we’re on the wrong path, and then encourage people to take actions in response. Being steeped in this work day after day sometimes feels like a fight, with a very nimble and reactive entity in the ring who is quite intent on foiling my plans.

The Power of Your Presence

I was struck hard during the interview with Stephen Jenkinson when he said “every older person needs to be ready for the day when a younger person walks up to them and asks them two questions. When did you know? What did you do about it?

When did you know that the world was headed towards the place it now finds itself? When did you know that the insects were disappearing, the oceans dying, and ancient 2000 year-old trees were quietly expiring?

Even more importantly, what did you do about it? Did you undertake a flurry of political activism? Did you banish superfluous consumption from your life? Or did you do nothing and look away, deciding that this was not a battle you wished to face?

There’s really no right or wrong answers here, but the young are anxious and they want to know; how did you handle yourself, and make decisions when faced with the enormity of it all? They want to know what life lessons you have for them, some useful gleanings that you can share, to both ease their minds and help carry their burden.

Through it all, the most powerful thing you can share with anyone, but especially the young, is your own clear presence. That’s it.

Just your full attention without your chattering monkey-mind solving puzzles in the background while you nod at what you hope are the right moments.

Simply focus and listen with your whole being, absorbing the words and the buried meanings all at once.

It’s astonishing what simply listening to someone can do. I’ve been on both ends of that process and I know how powerful it can be. The impact can be enormous when we fully engage and share ourselves fully with another.

I was similarly struck when I heard an addiction expert say that the opposite of addiction is not sobriety, it’s connection. That’s a powerful statement. So much of our epidemic of opiate use, as well as the self-reported loneliness and isolation people are experiencing begins with a primary failure to connect with self.

Going further and extending this outwards, the depth and quality of connections we forge with others are quite often no deeper than our own inner connection to self. As within, so without.

Which means the first step in forming deeper connections is to do our own inner work, explore our past wounds and excavate our hidden limiting beliefs that we simply know and accept as “that’s just me.”

It can be said that most people who have achieved success know themselves pretty well, but everybody who gets to significance has done some deep inner work and knows themselves really well. So well, in fact, that they can use their mind and ego as tools, which they can set aside if and when necessary, such as when deeply listening.

<img class=“aligncenter” src=“” alt="“Ego sculpture” width=“506” height=“491” />

Learning to set aside our egos, rather than be driven by them, is perhaps the most important undertaking of any adult’s lifetime, but is absolutely vital for those seeking meaning, purpose, and significance in their lives.


So my questions to you are these:
  1. Where in your life do you have or offer Significance?
  2. Would you like to get there?
  3. If so, do you know how?
  4. When did you know?
  5. What did you do about it?
Adam and I will soon be publicly announcing Peak Prosperity's Inner Circle, for people who are aware of the Three E’s predicaments we face and want to be part of a close knit tribe of people who have achieved some measure(s) of Success and/or Significance and are seeking to develop those further.

Keep an eye out for that announcement, as there’s a careful selection process and only limited spaces are available available.

By combining our 8 Forms Of Capital framework (financial, material, living, social, knowledge, time, cultural and emotional/spiritual) with this new Survival-to-Significance development path, you can quickly assess where you are and what you need to do to achieve your life’s goals.

For many of us our life’s goals were wrapped around being financially successful but now that we see the direction of things, realize that there’s so much more that needs to be included. For some this has meant a complete redirection of their work, where they live, and their entire lives.

Whatever sized bite of the apple is right for you, we’re here to help support you as you bring your personal gifts to bear to create a world worth inheriting (our mission) or whatever your personal spectacularly audacious goal happens to be.

In Part 2: Creating A World Worth Inheriting, I lay out where my personal focus is right now, given the inspiration I received from Joe and his Four-S model. There’s an opportunity I’m particularly excited about, in which a like-minded group of Peak Prosperity members can join forces to build resilience in a way that delivers impact as well as a lot of fun.

And I see opportunity for each of us to step more concretely into informed ‘elder’ roles, where we can help guide the thinking and actions of those close to us as well as those younger than us (an increasing amount who are waking up to the broken prospects the status quo is leaving them).

At a time when our media and authorities want us distracted, compliant, and isolated, this moment in time demands that we be the exact opposite of those things.

The good news is that we still have time and options in this story. The future is not yet written.

Get your own house in order first, and expand with brilliant compassion from there. That is my invitation.

It’s time.

Click here to read Part 2 of this report (free executive summary, enrollment required for full access).

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Some people don’t just join, they double down

Thank you for a very interesting read. Three thoughts stuck with me when I was done reading, specifically, attention, connection and know yourself.

Connection came from this part. Chris frequently mentions tribes. People in recovery programs use the word fellowship.
We frequently lament the opioid addiction, but there is an elephant in the room. You can easily identify the elephant. Go to your nearest Super Walmart, with the intention of paying close attention to the people you see. Start when you get out of your car and are passing the dozens of handicapped parking spots. As you are returning to your car, ask yourself what addiction was glaringly obvious.
Unlike opioids, tobacco and alcohol, the “Standard American Diet” addiction rate is very close to 100%.
If you don’t think it’s an addiction, think back to the most shockingly flavorful bite of food you have ever eaten. Compare the rush from that bite with any other substance rush you have ever experienced. I can’t speak for you, but my first bite into a Cinnabon was a shocking rush.
By any measure you choose, SAD is the elephant. It is destroying our health, economy and helping to destroy our planet, and you don’t even want to know how animals are being treated in a CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation). What we do to farm animals these days makes the Nazis, during WWII, look like saints.
CAFOs are required to produce the sheer volume of meat and dairy we eat today. There simply isn’t enough arable land to grain feed enough farm animals to satisfy our revved up eating habits.
That is the subset of our current dilemma I will likely focus on, but effort will be required.
Fellowships or tribes of people who don’t participate in the SAD are tiny and widely scattered, at this point. Fortunately, growth rates for the WFPB (healthy vegan) growth rates are double digit, at this point, but the base is so small that it will be a while, before their presence is widely noticed.

It seems with each change/upgrade, I feel a further separation from the larger group of inheritors. Significance with exclusivity … and at a fee.

I am through the survival and stability but not sure what to do next. I have been wracking my brains for years for what to do next and continue to draw blanks. Nothing speaks to me or seems to be something that will have an impact. How do I figure my next steps to success and significance?

Thanks LesPhelps…could not agree more. I just harvested Red Potatoes and Storage Onions and planted 250 sweet potato slips. Gardening is hard work but the payback is in every bite of amazingly tasty and fresh food. We eat organic chicken and wild caught fish and zero fast food.

hi Karenf,
Whatever you have achieved will benefit someone else. There are people who need your guidance. Maybe through a group that is not comprised of likeminded people?
At my church people have atrocious diets and it is a chance to connect on something that everyone is interested in. …ie. food. That’s an opening to discussion of resiliency.

A number of years ago, I offered “free potatoes” to our church members. One member inquired on how far he would have to drive to get some. Another member asked, “Are they washed and bagged?” Somewhat dismayed, I ended up giving a large portion of them to the local food bank. They weren’t too fussy about the condition of the offered product. And to think that there are some segments of the population out there that dream about getting from New York to London in a hour and a half. Priorities and expectations - what has modern civilization wrought?

it is great to see you post, been missing you. I am sorry your time here wasn’t fruitful. Nathan just finished his first year of grad school and the horses, beeves, bees, gardens, and sheep are faring well. glad to see you are about.
we have reduced our farm. not a commodity farm as much it was.

Good to hear your “voice”. Lots of changes and time to get back in touch with POP. You were always an inspiration to me on the level of farming that you did. I’m sure you made a lasting impact on your community.

Over the last year I had four small servings of meat, while out to dinner with the redhead, more to keep her mollified than anything else. She says she is done with that now, but I doubt she will ever entirely give up ice cream.
One of the surprises is that I taste far more subtle flavors now that I’m not consuming the intense flavors in meat and processed food.
Also, I’ve become a fair hand at baking wheat bread.
Before I read “The China Study,” followed by a deep dive on nutritional research, my idea of a proper cut of meat was a large porterhouse.

So this kid (maybe early 20’s) shows up on my door step last Friday. He’s working for a pest control company and wants to offer to exterminate all my spiders and ants.
Refer to one of many reports:
Oh I was not nice to this kid at all. Probably not very helpful, but what can you actually do when people base their livelihoods on destroying what little we have left.

I was taken off red meat due to a holistic approach to Prostate cancer 13 years ago, but will eat grass fed organic once in a while. The omega sixes in corn fed feedlot beef are what is bad.
On the ice cream thing… a friend took pitty on me for my strict diet which excluded dairy and made me ice cream out of avocados. How good is that?

I reject the idea that you have “three choices” and each choice is then explained as existing in a vacuum, completely unrelated and separate with clearly defined margins and consequences. That is false.
The most powerful thing you can do to combat the status quo is to “drop out”. When you do that, you throw your personal weight against the system. Growing your food, rejecting materialism, and practicing a sustainable self-reliant lifestyle is exactly how you fight back. The way it is characterized in the article is that it is like a passive “giving up”. Anyone who thinks that has never tried it. Actually practicing what you preach is 100x more important than the preaching [ and 100 times more difficult ]. Doing is what counts, talking is much less important. Doing acts as a model to others who are of the same mind. Thats why I always say there are no collective solutions, only individual ones. If you can go out and live the life that you recommend, that is going to do more for what you believe than all the talk in the world. Snarky comments on twitter arent doing anything. Thats a complete waste of time. Use that time to plant a garden. The food you grow will be the food you dont buy from a huge commercial agri-business industry. Thats doing more than all the twitter comments in the entire world put together.
In trying to practice what you preach you will no doubt run into inconsistencies between your own beliefs and the reality of life…thats where wisdom is born. Anyone who hasnt gone through that process shouldnt be talking anyway…and once you’ve gone through that process you realize the futility of words.
So, yeah, buy that cabin in that beautiful spot [ I did ], and rest assured that you are now doing everything in your individual power to change the world for the better.

Here’s a youtube link for Part I – The path from survival to significance:
And here’s the direct MP3 link for Part I:
LINK to Straight Up – From Survival to Significance
And here’s a link to the subscriber only part II audio recording: LINK to Creating A World Worth Inheriting
As always, if you follow these links all the way through to the MP3 player, you can download the audio file by clicking on the three stacked dots to the far right of the player itself and then selecting “download.”