I began my first entrepreneurial venture in the early 1980's with my husband of 10 years and our 2 small daughters, just 4 and 5 years old then. Three years later, we were selling over $5 million in product annually - a good return for the times and for a new venture. And yet, the greater our success, the more I found it to be hollow and lacking in meaning. I often wondered if there was more to life than this? There had to be more than the setting of goals and their achievement followed by the setting of more goals and more achievements. We lived a pampered life. What was enough or would we forever be chasing bigger and better brass rings; bigger houses, cars, and titles? When did the goal-setting end and the living of life begin?
To my dismay, I realized that my life had been lived all along but where was I in all of that doing and what really mattered to me? Was what mattered, in fact, the accumulation of wealth, or the prestige of success, the pleasure of accomplishment, or the power and authority I could exert over others? The question I wanted answered was this: What gives meaning to life? I could tell you what did not, according to my experience, but I could not say what would.
My interest in success as a goal unto itself began to wane considerably over the next few years. I found it ever more difficult to live a life of excess while driving my Mercedes by a homeless family that was living on the sidewalk. I had to stop pretending not to see all the people in this Land of Opportunity that were hungry, thirsty, broken, and poor. The more I opened my eyes to those around me, the less I came to enjoy our abundant success.
Success in any endeavor is much like a dual-edged sword. Whatever is gained, we stand to lose. Amassing the fruits of success, we have that much more to protect and to safeguard and soon, what we own, owns us. Where is the wisdom in that?
Is it really success that we're after? All the riches in the world won't help us feel successful until we discover for ourselves what it is that holds real meaning. It may not be what you think.
6 months ago