It has really dawned on me how much you have to grow as a person to prevent success from ruining your life.
Yes, success can ruin your life.
Every step forward comes with more responsibility, bigger challenges, higher stakes, and smaller margins for error, and if you’re not up to the challenge, you fall on your face.
And eventually, if we keep raising the bar, we reach that ceiling and find ourselves facing a crisis.
This is a generalized version of the Peter principle, which states that we tend to rise to the level of our incompetence.
That is, we keep doing whatever has worked until the tasks become so great that it fails (and sometimes spectacularly), and then wonder what the hell happened.
I think that applies to more than just work, too. I think it applies to our approach living life on the whole.
We can sacrifice everything on the altar of productivity and achieve tremendous financial success, but can all that money fix battered health, shattered relationships, and frazzled nerves? Can it fill the void that opens when you start asking “is this it?”
I should know, because I’ve recently felt this shadow looming.
And when I stepped back and zoomed out, I realized that what has gotten me this far wasn’t going to get me to where I want to be, not just as a businessman but as an individual, husband, father, friend, community member, and human being.
I had to admit that I had reached my level of incompetence, and that my decisions, values, and behaviors weren’t going to create the future that I really wanted.
Moments like these are tough at first–when you get radically honest with yourself and “face your dragons”–but they’re the only way to make the sweeping, lasting changes necessary to rise to the next level.
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For me, it boiled down to two things:
Reconnecting with my purposes.
I didn’t get into this game with visions of “building an empire” or getting rich or famous. I just wanted to help people with what I knew and make new friends and connections.
I feel like I’ve fallen away from that in the last year or so, as more and more of my time has been tied up in organizational and marketing activities.
This has drained me spiritually, so to speak, and I needed to get other people to do that work so I could get back to my big whys.
Remembering that I have to create my life outside of work as well.
I love working.
It satisfies me in a way that nothing else does, and that has gone a long way to help me and my team do what we’ve done.
There was a problem, though: I was losing my ability to enjoy anything BUT work.
If I wasn’t working, I was thinking about work, essentially biding my time until I could get back work.
That’s not healthy. That’s not how I want to live.
Yes, I want to work hard. I enjoy putting my nose to the grindstone and getting shit done. I also want to enjoy the other things in life that matter, too.
You know, exercise, family, friends, community, and so on.
The only way I’m going to get there, though, is to PARTICIPATE in those other areas of life just as creatively and vigorously as I’ve participated in my work.
I truly believe that you can only get as much pleasure out of life as you can be interested and active in it. Waiting for people, money, or things to “make you happy” never works