Life is all about balance. Seeing somebody’s isolated success, such as a sculpted / lean body (whether male or female) means that person has sacrificed many other aspects in their life in order to achieve that success in one area.
I recently spoke to one of my peers in the industry – owner of a well known motorsport / aerospace company and he told me that if you’re having to stay to work long hours in order to make good money (60-100 hours a week), then the business cannot be considered as successful. This is especially true if you have a wife and kids because time with them is more important. It’s not only until your business can continue to operate on it’s own while you take a long vacation, that it can finally be considered “successful”. I hadn’t really thought about it like that before – I always thought the best part of running a business was just not having to answer to anybody above you… however the biggest “perk” and ultimate goal should be to have a self-sustaining and profitable entity.
This brings me back to the title of the post. Ferrari owners are often lamented for not using their coveted cars that many people lust after. They say, “if I had a Ferrari, I would drive it every day!”. What they’re not realizing is that most people who can afford these cars don’t actually have much free time to do anything, much less drive a “Point A to Point A” car. These people are making active sacrifices in order to purchase certain material goods.
There’s a Chinese idiom “吃苦” which literally translates to “Eating Bitterness”. The true meaning of the idiom is to bear hardship and it’s a lesson that Chinese parents impart on their kids in regards to all things in life. In order to “taste sweetness”, one must sacrifice time and effort. It’s definitely a more complete answer than “just work hard” as successful people often say. Working hard is almost always a given… anybody can work hard for at least a short period of time. You can be the hardest working ditch digger, but at the end of a day you’re still a ditch digger and making ditch digging pay (as an example).
Being and working smart is usually the other half of the equation and people usually mention this because if you’re a smart person and not successful, then it obviously implies that you’re missing the hardworking part. I like to think that I was born smart, was well educated growing up, and very creative in finding ways to be more efficient (aka getting things done with as little effort as possible). I’m naturally lazy. The Chinese zodiac said that snakes (people born in 1989) are lazy. Perhaps it’s all been a self-fulfilling prophecy. Anyways, mostly through necessity, I’ve been able to suck it up, focus, and work ridiculously hard for spurts at a time. I’m talking 20+ hour work days, 90 hour work weeks, etc. Bursts of hard work and effort are not sustainable, however and when I get burnt out, the results (profits, in this case) are directly affected. By nature, the bursts of hard work and bouts of laziness balance each out and I make a decent living. I often think to myself, “If only I could suck it up and just work hard for a year. Imagine how much money I’d have!”. But then that leads into the topic of finding the perfect balance in life…
I’ve never quite seen the concept of “Eating Bitterness” presented quite so concisely and accurately as this presenter has done. It’s a Ted Talk from 2013, but I’ve just seen it for the first time.
It’s titled, “Grit: The power of passion and perseverance”. Looking back over the last 6 years of running my business, there hasn’t been a better way to describe this process.
Think about it… going out with strangers you meet through an internet application with the hope of developing some sort of romance. This is a very unnatural concept because romance is not to be force fed. Taking such a business-like approach to the one thing in life that is not meant to be pragmatic… just doesn’t seem to make sense. It’s doomed for failure from the get-go.
I am imagining all the moments of cringeworthy awkward silence, expensive dinner interviews, and the formulaic nights (dinner, a familiar bar, and then the move). Hope to never experience that again.