Last week my 10-year old, Jamie, showed me a video of a guy playing Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train” on PVC drums – a very cool video. As she watched it, she said, “Mom! You should get that and learn how to play!” For a fleeting moment, I agreed and felt a brief pang of…frustration? Guilt? Sadness? Not sure what – because my first thought was not where could I get a drum set like that, nor did I have any doubts I could learn, but rather where the hell would I find the time?
It’s a reality for all growth-focused entrepreneurs – if we’re really putting in an all-out effort to grow the business, there’s little time for anything extra. As Kevin O’Leary so elegantly put it in an interview I did with him, “Balance is bullshit.” Often we miss out on hobbies and pastimes, family gatherings (okay, you know some of that is a convenient little white lie). We miss workouts, sports practice, parties, dinners out and the like – this year a lot less than others, but we are often burning the midnight and after-hours oil, even while on “vacation” (if we ever really fully disconnect) working while others play, relax and practice PVC drums.
So, the big question is this: Are these sacrifices worth it for YOU?
I wouldn’t dare to attempt to answer that question. It is a very personal choice you need to make – and only you can make it, even though others will certainly try to influence your decision. What I can say is this: while no one would gather around my computer at a party to watch ME work because it’s nowhere near as entertaining as the PVC drum guy, there IS an art to it…a skill. When I pulled off a year-end marketing initiative that generated $663,500 in sales for 2021, setting us up for hitting our goals and giving us a “going into 2021 strong” boost, it’s every damned bit as impressive and takes as much skill, practice and know-how as banging out Crazy Train on a set of homemade drums. Maybe more. Definitely not interesting or entertaining to watch, but it made this gal happy. Those rare few who understood the true difficulty of what we pulled off, and the artistry of the campaign, oohed and aahhhed as I “banged out” a flood of sales – but not my 10-year-old, who would much rather watch the PVC drum guy. Or just about anything else. It certainly doesn’t make me the “cool” Mom. I can live with that.
So, as we come to another year-end and prepare to step across the artificial, man-made line drawn in the sands of time from 2020 to 2021, you will likely pause to reflect on this past year, your personal goals and tangible measurements such as sales, income, contracts won and the like, as well as more intangible measurements such as happiness. You might question whether or not you’re doing the right things. Maybe question if you’re working “too hard” or making bad life choices, “working” your life away. To that end, I would like to offer a few thoughts…
- If you choose to make running and growing a business a top priority in your life, do NOT let others with less ambition attempt to guilt you into feeling bad about that choice. It IS an honorable ambition despite what everyone else will tell you. That’s not to say you should allow your business to encroach on your life, health and relationships to the point of total destruction, but there WILL be sacrifices made; that’s true of anyone attempting to achieve any worthwhile goal or ambition in life. Top athletes don’t get to stay up late drinking and partying with their friends on weekends or take a day off from training. Top actors and musicians who seem to live a fantasy life are often on the road for months on end, in the studio and working hours upon hours to stay at the top of their game. Conversely, if you choose an easier path, that too is your choice – but you ARE making a choice, and none of us want to hear your financial tale of woe while you spend hours fiddling around, taking it easy, working less so you can spend more time entertaining yourself.
- Earning money ethically through providing value to others via your business – and earning a lot of it – is an honorable ambition. Money isn’t the only measurement, but it’s a mirror for value creation, correct decisions and working on the right things. Those who insist that money won’t buy happiness are usually short on money, ignorant of any means of getting any and are selling their philosophy hard because misery loves company. As Twain said, there’s nothing more irritating than a good example. Further, a lack of financial stability wears a person down. I know a LOT of people who are far from financial freedom, strapped with debt, working paycheck to paycheck and living with a constant black cloud of financial anxiety over their head. They worry endlessly about losing their job, the worsening economy and getting hit with a sudden, unexpected bill. They’re forever looking at things they want – a bigger house, nicer car, the luxury of sending their kids to a different school or on a cool vacation – but are sharply reminded they can’t and instead must make do with what they have, angry and bitter over those who can. As they get older, they worry whether they’ll be able to have enough money to retire – and right now MOST people will not be able to retire comfortably. To that end, I’m not so sure lack of money guarantees happiness either… So, if money isn’t the deciding factor of happiness or unhappiness, I’d like to at least have some money to go with the misery.
- Further, just trying to be happy in your life is an ignorant and childish goal. We need challenge and difficulty…big goals to pursue. There IS an ethical obligation to contribute and justify your existence. That obligation to work and contribute doesn’t make us happy all the time – far from it. It chafes your soul, challenges your fortitude, stresses your abilities and serves up disappointment after disappointment and exhausts you – but working toward a worthy goal and facing and overcoming the difficulties of the journey STRENGTHENS you and builds character. It gives you self-respect. As Thoreau said, the mass of men live lives of quiet desperation – and I think not that such desperation springs from an enthusiastic pursuit of a worthy goal and stumbling, failing and trying again, but rather from their LACK of the enthusiasm needed to rise up and better themselves. Deep down they know it, no matter what “I just wanna be happy” or “Money isn’t everything” claptrap they tell themselves. You cannot hide from your own conscience. There’s honor in doing a job well, TRUE ambition and honest, hard work. Money IS certainly a reward, but it’s not the ONLY reward you reap.
Let me once again remind you that you always have the power of choice. Most people don’t like that, even though they’ll tell you they do. They want others to tell them what to do…to set up the guardrails for them, to tell them how to act, what to think and how to behave. They’re strongly influenced by the criticism of others and the need to fit in and go along. The “cancel culture” is all about shaming you for your audacity to have a different opinion, to question their logic, make different choices that suit YOU and defy their agenda. Stand strong, my friend, and make your choices YOURS and yours alone. Part of what I try to do when I write, speak and coach my clients is to have them see the power they have and to embrace their full independence, never abdicating that power or responsibility.
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