You hear all sorts of variations on the statement "What a privilege to get to do what you love for a living!", when you are successful doing something that you like or may be good at.
There is a lot of truth to that statement but it's a double-sided coin. That being said, here are some thoughts I have on the curse of being successful.
- You are constantly in survival mode - Maybe this isn't entirely unique to being successful but it's a feeling a lot of successful people get to take things to the next level. Even if someone has financial stability and the ability to take larger risks, those risks always activate the pain centers of a successful person's mind. A lot of times successful people are willing to put it all on the line and risk losing it all and because of it, it's a curse.
- Many are idealistic - This speaks to the putting it all on the line. When you believe in something entirely or love something, sometimes logic can and will go out the window. You see this a lot with entrepreneurs like Elon Musk who has risked it all numerous times to great peril, but somehow always seemingly arises from the fire. I didn't say he was unfazed or even unscathed. He or any other entrepreneur will at times arise wounded in many ways as a result of their idealism.
- You face constant attacks - As I've said in previous episodes including the 14 Things a Real Artist does podcast, if you're making work that's worth a shit, you can and will be criticized. This speaks to the curse of being successful. Just as many people who want you to succeed also want you to fail because you are a symbol of what they don't want to work to become.
- Mo' money Mo' problems - The rap lyric is true. The larger your operation grows the more problems develop. It's the growing pains of success. If you have a house, the toilet will eventually break, if you have a car, it's going to need repairs. In a business you might have a piece of equipment that goes down an exactly the right time. All of this stuff can cause real financial problems the more you scale your operation.
- You don't always know who you can trust - When you are successful people always come around. They may not come around, but most likely they will, especially if you are a master worthy of praise or anyone with a unique skill. Because of this a byproduct of success can be attraction. Attraction can bring both negative and positive people and situations. At times it can be hard to determine who is in it for you or both of you or in it for themselves.
- Everybody wants a piece of the action - Old friends come back around, new people give you more attention than they would had you not been successful. This is really all part of human nature. People are naturally attracted to those who command power and success commands power.
- A lot of different women want to run to you - It doesn't matter what a gal's relationship status may be, if she can get her needs and fantasies met through or by you, she's going to try. Not always but there is definitely a sliding scale as it relates to what women are willing to do to break their current conditioning. The more successful you are, the more outlandish the situations become. You could have a full bird colonel in the mommy department with a wonderful family, successful husband and picture perfect life that will compartmentalize that responsibility and have a fling with you if the timing is right. If you read any rockstar autobiography like the one on Motley Crue you can see examples of this. Like the reporter that crawls through the window and fucks Nikki Six in the bathroom stall or some shit like that. Women will break character for just about anything they want bad enough.
- You can't tell people anything, you have to show them - I never worry about telling people my business ideas or any shit like that because I know most people can't see opportunity when it's presented to them. Even when they can, they have to execute on those opportunities and that takes time, resources and work most people will never put in. Even as it relates to other ideas that have nothing to do with business, most people can't see. I could be talking about illegal immigration or gun control, etc. You have to show people what you are talking about for them to full absorb and appreciate it. This is one of the main reasons I create content. It's because I can talk about it all day, but if people do not have a tangible they can share and comment about, it's not real to them. Things do not become real until they are real.
- Doing whatever you want requires great discipline - You can get most of what you want if you're willing to work for it when other people are not willing to. If I'm hungover, I still create. If I don't want to play a gig, I still do it if I told somebody I would. If I "take a vacation" and go to the beach, I eventually come home and pick up where I left off. You know that you can't always control the outcome of every situation and because of that you have to have discipline to continue even when you fail.
- Failure and rejection are a daily occurrence - If you run your own business, chances are you had to sell yourself at some point. If you're selling yourself, you're going to get rejected by somebody. That is an immutable law. When you're successful you understand rejection is part of the process and every no gets you closer to a yes. In addition to daily rejection we also have to deal with daily failures and failed attempts at tasks that do not provide a desired outcome. Equipment failures, people failures, financial failures, all of these things happen on a daily basis. This process of failure hardens us and thickens our skin to a leathery state and because of that we develop the courage and perseverance to continue.
- Petty people deny us opportunities - Many of times people did not give me an opportunity because they felt that my success was a symbol of the fact that I didn't need help. This type of attitude is not an American concept. In America, how the system works is you are rewarded for your innovation, unique skills, and hard labors. If there is demand for your product, you get to sell it for a profit. If you have the best solution, you get to provide it. Despite this being how our system operates, petty people will deny you opportunities in an attempt to hurt you. This is a sad reality of being in business or doing things that are worthwhile. Even when you are the strongest and fittest for the job, you will not always get it.
- We miss out on a lot - While success does afford you freedom, there is always a cost to this freedom. While you are building your business and other people are living "balanced" 9-5 lives you are burning the midnight oil. All the girls you could be courting sip their martinis at happy hour while other 9-5 guys do the same. We don't take trips or vacations to exotic beach locations unless there is a profit motive attached. There is no difference between work and personal life. Sure we can force ourselves to take a "vacation" or spend some time with "friends" but every hour we do this detracts from an hour that could have been spent moving us closer to our goal. Every other activity but achieving what we are looking for creates contention in our mind and because of that we miss out on a lot. Maybe we're not missing out though...
- Time passes fast - This speaks to point 11. When you're out there building a business, especially a successful one, sometimes things can move really fast. I find myself looking at what I have accomplished and wondered at times if I made the right choices because of this simple fact. We only have a limited amount of time and we have to use all of it as efficiently as possible if we are going to be effective in whatever we do. We also have to stop and understand if we are using that time on the right things and if it is even important in the long run.
- Our social lives suck - This speaks to the above listed point. While many successful people may have vibrant social lives, the Bill Gates' of the world probably don't. Maybe I don't know shit about his life but I'm using him as an example of the proverbial geek type that became great as a result of focusing his energy on his business. Success requires attention and attention is taken away from the medial when we are trying to accomplish the meaningful.
- People are going to misunderstand you - Successful people make decisions based on experience and logic, unsuccessful people make decisions based on sensationalism and emotion. Because of this, people are going to view your every move with a cocked eye. This goes back to the point about facing constant attacks from petty people. Petty people build their reality on emotion, not fact or experience.
- We are constantly fighting unreality and setting the record straight - There are a lot of Fake Gurus out there spewing their fake knowledge. There are videos all over you tube where people don't get accurate accounts of the reality of the situation. In my watch this before you drive your camper through Mexico, I talk about all the videos on YouTube that never talk about the potential danger people expose themselves to when traveling there. The world is full of trickery and people will happily peddle it for a profit if they go unchallenged. The bottom line is that for every 1 person that has a verifiable track record and experience in a given area, there are exponentially more people who do not. We have to set the record straight so people are lead in the right direction.
- We don't have much to talk about with people that aren't successful - As I talk about in the Why I have no Friends podcast, Stupid Myths People Perpetuate to Make Themselves Feel Better, and the How to Spot a Petty Person Podcast small people focus on small things. When you get stuck in a conversation with an hourly employee a majority of the time there is not much you're going to tell you that is going to be earth shattering. While they may have specialized knowledge associated with a process you find interesting, such as being an electrician, most people who have no aspirations for themselves or are not dedicated to continual self improvement have nothing to add. I'm not saying they don't have value or shouldn't have a voice, I'm just staying that the "drinks on the patio" type crowd that want to sit around and banter about nothing at happy hour, that's the crowd I don't have much to talk about with.