The Problem With Success

I’ve been talking to a handful of people on WordPress about success. Of course, I thought I knew exactly what it meant, but the consumption of knowledge and opposing opinions has made me think about it a whole lot more (I talk about the importance of this consumptionhere).

Zack Shier sent me a story about the American Dream that fascinated me. Basically a Harvard business graduate sees this fisherman working for an hour each day to feed his family and asks him why he doesn’t work harder to create a fortune for himself. The fisherman asks why, and after a series of advancements that the businessman suggests, we find out that the Harvard student wants the fisherman to work harder so that he can retire and do all of the things he does currently. And he’s able to do those things currently because he only works one hour a day.

So, is this a problem with success? Is success a fallacy in and of itself? I don’t think so. For everyone, success means happiness. I understand the minimalist approach to life, but some people are simply not happy with complacency, myself included. I’m happy with everything I have…ecstatic, actually. But I constantly want more, and that desire for more is what makes me happy.

I think that, if I may reduce the population to a binary level, there are two kinds of people in the world: the kind that is capable of complacency, and the kind that have a fire blazing inside of them. The former works to be happy with what they have, the latter works to be happy. Work and forward progression are what make some people happy.

I read this great quote from Robin Sharma: “I have a sense that the best part of you will feel a little hollow. Part of what makes us human is the hunger to realize our greatest gifts and live fully. We were built to shine. And without significance, I believe that we will feel that we have walked the planet in vain.” That’s a little heartbreaking. And I just wanted to throw in this quote from Les Brown: “I just wanted to be comfortable in life. Then I figured out that in order to be comfortable, I had to be rich.”

For some people, happiness can be found in complacency. But since success is closely linked to happiness, there’s nothing wrong with constant forward progression if that’s what makes someone happy. If you’ve read Steve Jobs’ biography, imagine how unhappy his life would have been if he had retired with his $150 million after leaving Apple. Money didn’t mean anything to him. In fact, he lived a minimalist life. But he was obsessed with perfection and constant progression. And there’s nothing wrong with wanting more – IRRATIONAL LIVING,LLC