What Does Success Look Like to You? – Tom Kalous

What Does Success Look Like to You? – Tom Kalous

Tom Kalous, Ph.D. was born in Sidney, Nebraska and his family moved to Colorado when he was 16 months old.  So, he considers himself a semi-native of Colorado.  Dr. Kalous completed his undergraduate degree in psychology and economics at Colorado State University and received his MA and Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology with a minor is Behavioral Statistics from the Ohio State University.  

Over the course of his 30-year career, Tom had a successful private practice for 15 years, ran his own tech-based company for 7 years, and has transitioned into organizational consulting, leadership coaching, corporate training on full time basis for the past 8 years.  Along the way, he has become a well-known psychological consultant and educator for the conservation field in the United States.  As such, Dr. Kalous is a national faculty member for the National Conservation Leadership Institute, the Association of Fish Wildlife Agencies Management Assistance Team, and the Emerging Leaders Program for the Bureau of Land Management.  Tom Kalous, Ph.D. bases his work on the concepts of Emotional Intelligence and on the latest social neuroscience research and is very popular speaker, facilitator, and presenter.

Dr. Kalous currently resides in Westminster, Colorado (which is a suburb of Denver) with his daughter, Kelsey.  You can find out more about his company, TDK Consulting, and his work at www.tdkconsulting.net.

How have you achieved success?

I think that I have achieved success by developing strong relationships with people I work with and by persevering.  I have always tried to treat everyone I meet with the same level of respect whether they be the janitor or the CEO of a company.  It was a lesson my dad instilled in me.  That approach combined with my commitment to being authentic, genuine, and approachable have helped me create strong relationships with my clientele and business partners.  Because they trust (and I trust them), they have stayed with me even when times were tough.

In addition, I had a music teacher that repeatedly said that the success comes from perseverance.  When I was struggling in graduate school and did not want to continue, I heard his voice saying, “Persevere, Tom. You can do this.” So, I dug down deep and kept pushing and graduated with excellent grades.  That ability to persevere has served me well throughout my career.

The depth of my relationships combined with my ability to keep pushing through the hard times have definitely contributed to my success.

How has your definition of success changed over the years?

When I first started my career, I was focused on money and prestige and it left me feeling flat.  Over time, I learned to see success differently. When my daughter was 6, she helped me redefine success.  She was reading a book that was trying to decipher what makes people happy.  The book came to the conclusion that maintaining curiosity was the key to happiness. One day, while I was tying her shoes, she said, “Dad, that book was wrong. Curiosity is good.  But the key to happiness is being allowed to be yourself.”  Her statement hit me right between the eyes. She was right.  I had been looking for success in traditional ways, but that did not resonate with who I am.

I become successful when I put doing what I loved first (the adult version of truly being yourself.) Once I did that, everything fell into place.  I let go of a business that owned me as much as I owned it, I got out of a marriage that stifled who I was, and I started to do what I loved to do. The funny part is, when I let go of my old version of success, the money started to come in without me having to focus on it nearly as much.

What has success meant to you?

Success means being able to do what you love.  If your work doesn’t feel like work, you are successful.  If you have time to do the things that make you happy, you are successful.  My success has meant that I do work that is fulfilling to me, I get to do the things I love to do, and I spend quality time with people who love me and support me.

Do you have advice for others on how to be successful?

Start by finding your purpose or your “why”.  Simon Sinek is a very popular thought leader for business right now because he was able to articulate a simple idea in a way that has helped me and many others redefine success.  His books, “Start with Why” and “The Infinite Game” are must-reads for anybody who wants to start a journey toward purpose and contentment.  They will also guide you toward your own definition of success.