I think most people get confused about what success really is.
It seems like they look at success mostly as a financial measurement.
For instance, people come in to my office all the time and say, “Wow, this is an impressive company you’ve built.”
But I can’t remember the last time someone came to me and said, “Wow – you’ve been married for 25 years, you have two kids who have their heads screwed on right and a dog that doesn’t bark every two seconds. Impressive.”
Don’t get me wrong – the business success is great, and I’m not giving back the money.
But I consider myself just as, if not more successful, for running a normal house, and having a nice family, and being a contributor to my community and all my other “successes” that involve people and relationships.
A lot of people think that unless they eventually make a lot of money, they will not have led a successful life.
But measuring success according to money is like thinking that unless you have a certain body type, you’ll never be beautiful.
It’s so incorrect.
Money is just one area of possible success. And it’s definitely NOT the most important one.
Think about it. If you’re sixty and healthy, and you have another few decades ahead of you, haven’t you led a pretty successful life? And if you have a nice family to boot…what more could you ask for? Everything else, including money, would be gravy.
Don’t we dream of having full lives, and not full bank accounts?
If you are a billionaire but you die prematurely from heart disease, and your kids hated you, and your wife left long ago, how “successful” were you?
What do you think of the guy who drives a bus for thirty years, and is happily married, and has two kids who graduated college, and who volunteers at the soup kitchen or the kids home every week? Is he not successful?
He’ll probably outlive me. He’s probably less stressed-out. (Don’t think money doesn’t come with its own price.)
I can’t tell you what to value. But I can tell you that it’s important to reflect on what you think you value – and to adjust your definition of “success” accordingly.