… is not the language we use to discuss survival.
The ideas, tools, skills, and strategies that bring us to the very pinnacle of success are not the ones we use to put food on our tables. Not the same at all. At least, not for most of us. But all too often we make the mistake of confusing the two. And that can cost us dearly.
Survival is about the business of life. Paying the phone bill, buying groceries, and making a living. Important things to be sure. But real success is more than that. And while the essence of survival is taking care of your physical needs, becoming truly successful feeds both your spirit and your soul.
The process of becoming successful is unique to each of us; it is something we have to define for ourselves. Far too many delegate this responsibility. Instead, we allow others to judge us using their concept of “success” rather than by the only true measure acceptable – our own.
It’s easy to see how we can become confused. There are plenty of people out there telling us how to be successful. And many of us have been programmed from birth with the same information: work hard, play fair, go to school, and make tons of money. If only it were so. How many of you still believe?
There is nothing wrong with these rules other than the fact that they no longer work (if they ever did). And they don’t work because they don’t go far enough. They just don’t tell you what you need to know. Because what you really need to have is knowledge of self; and that means you should work to develop an intimate relationship with yourself, your dreams, and your desires. Without that, you can easily become lost. Pulled first this way, and then another.
There’s an old saying that goes, “Most people are too busy making a living to ever make it big”. And in my experience, it’s true; especially in the global economy of today. For while the language of survival is all about “covering your costs”, the language of success is about “maximizing your opportunities”. You can hear that language each time you meet with a customer, a client, an investor, a banker, or … But which language are they speaking?
More importantly, which language do you speak?
Sometimes I think of a conference table with the “pocket protector” people on one side (those who want to cover their costs) and the “Armani MBA” group on the other (who wish to maximize the opportunity). I don’t have to tell you which side usually wins, do I? And I have to say that for years I was a proud, card-carrying member of the “pocket protector” faction.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not all wine and roses on the other side either. But I have learned that there is some middle ground. So, while I still have this urge to make sure that I covered all my exits (or my areas of exposure – personal as well as corporate), I’ve learned that the real money comes to those who reach toward the future and past self-imposed limits.
Dreaming big can payoff.
Maybe that’s what Thoreau had in mind when he wrote the most famous line in Walden: “If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them”.