This week, I’ve shared some Weight Room Wisdom, accumulated from my daily workouts with friends. Now, granted, most people in a gym are typically in just another version of Plato’s Cave, working on appearances. But in our group, we tackle serious realities as well. I have one more story I’d like to share, from this week’s workouts.
Between sets of bicep curls, I was talking to a friend, Tim, about his career. He’s a very successful entrepreneur, living in a beautiful gated community, and getting ready to relocate to St. Kitts for an exciting new adventure, in his early fifties. Right out of college, he worked for a big maker of scientific instruments. And he was a great success. But the more he sold, the more pressure he came under. The sales manager would congratulate him on his spectacular results and set a target for 30% more sales for the upcoming year, even when it became nearly impossible to attain without sacrificing everything else in his life to the altar of More.
At 28, Tim decided to start his own company, largely to give himself the freedom to spend more time with his young family. The first four years were hard, but then success came, and it came in abundance. There was more to do, more to think about, and as the business expanded, his time gradually shifted back into something like the grind he had left. The natural thing for an entrepreneur who has struggled and is finally making money is, of course, to take full advantage of that fair wind and set new goals that will generate even more money, avidly pursuing the opportunity to “make hay while the sun shines,” as the old adage has it.
But Tim realized what was happening and did a values check. What are my life purposes? What do I care about most? What really matters to me above all else? It wasn’t just more and more money, attained as quickly as possible. It was a balance that was right for him, with plenty of time for family, as well as a flourishing business. So he made some adjustments, and didn’t stop being successful, but stopped being pulled from his prime values.
That’s too rare in our time. For many decades, motivational speakers have talked about the importance of having goals, almost as if it doesn’t matter what they are, as long as we have some. And we’re told to dream big, which is good. But the problem often becomes that people dream what their surrounding culture dreams, whether it’s right for them or not. They set goals based on their most immediate desires, rather than according to their deepest values and highest purposes. And when you do that, attaining your goals can actually make your life worse, rather than better. Tim realized this, and made sure that his values and purposes, his deepest beliefs, always guided him in business. He eventually sold that original company and started a new one in a different field, and had great success again. And he did so by keeping his guiding purpose in view.
It’s a good reminder for us all.
With that in mind, have a great, productive, purposeful day.