We’ve all heard the warnings are out there that getting rich won’t make you happy and highly successful business people die at a young age of heart attacks or sacrifice their families, hobbies and other dreams for the sake of success.
Yet, many of us are still driven to this place. The allure of money, success and power has become (at least in the US) a draw like a siren that tempts you with her (or his) pleasures and treasures only to see you crashing on the rocks when you finally have all that you dreamed of.
I personally never had any great aspirations to run a company or make a ton of money or to be a leader. Really I never had these aspirations because I was raised to be “ordinary”, which really none of us are. I did however grow up with great intellectual curiosity and an overwhelming desire to work hard and do a good job. I’ve always wanted my actions to matter. I always wanted to look back at the end of the day and say, “ok, there was some value I brought”.
Only when I started being successful (through no grand design, just hard work and intuition), did I start to understand that there were perils at the top that no one really tells you about. Even those at the top don’t really admit it or maybe even know because once you are at the top; you have to try so damn hard to stay there. You oftentimes lose your purpose and why or what got you there to begin with.
Maybe when we are young we think: I want to get rich so I don’t have to work anymore and I can spend every day fishing or skiing. Yet, what happens when we get successful or rich, we just work harder because we are so afraid of not being at the top or we spend so much money on vacations and self-medication (shopping, gambling, alcohol, food, etc.) in order to deal with the stresses of this lifestyle that we just have to keep making more money.
Having aspirations to be CEO or make six or seven figures are worthy goals. However, I do suggest being very diligent in staying in the present moment as you are making the climb to the top. Also, if you aren’t enjoying what you are doing most of the time, then I’d suggest some self-reflection. Is this really what you are passionate about? Can you see yourself doing it for the next 30 years? Or is it just a means to an end? Will you look back and regret that you missed so many of your kids games or let your marriage fall apart or didn’t have enough “you” time?
Rarely (or arguably ever) should the happiness of today be sacrificed for the “success” of tomorrow. Just my two cents.