Buddha Stone Statue in China
How often can people do/experience all of the above? There are people who have changed the world (e.g., Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa, Gandhi, etc.) who didn’t make a lot of money and we won’t ever know if they were truly happy, healthy or content. There are people who changed the world and made a lot of money (e.g., Oprah, Steve Jobs, Madonna, Lady Ga Ga, Michael Dell, Bill Gates, etc.) but we don’t know how happy or content they are or were. Oprah has been the most open about her struggles with personal satisfaction and her weight…the businessmen, not so much.
Do we have to deal with having one or two out of three? I think I can count on one hand the people who appeared to have all three but if you dig a little further… Check out a recent post on TechCrunch called 10 Things Entrepreneurs Don’t Learn in College. All very true, the second being “How To Be Betrayed,” which happens all of the time in business (and politics) whether you are a man, woman, or a duck. I clicked over to the authors (James Altucher) post on how to be lucky and it made me wonder if he had kids because he advises getting up at 4 or 5 a.m. every day and to bed by 9:30 pm with exercising and eating right in between. Maybe I’ll figure out how to do that when I’m 50 and the kids are gone. I guess that’s why some are more monetary successful than others…early bird gets the worm!
The saying “you can have it all, but just not all at the same time” must be true. So it seems the thing we have the most control over is how we feel: happy, sad, content, angry, etc. We can try to change the world but there’s no telling what numerous things will be thrown in our path. We can try to make tons of money, but a lot of shit happens (e.g., kids, health issues, the economy, marriage, divorce, love, hate, indifference, parents) trying to do that. But we will usually find ways to make enough to get by or we become comfortable with a lot of debt.
I was reminded during my recent trip to China that Buddha, who was born and originally spread his philosophy in India before his teachings were embraced by the Chinese, taught that at the root of all suffering was desire (for a person, place, thing, success, money, etc.). As I understand it, he said that if you gave up the desire for earthly things or status that would be the only way you could eventually achieve enlightenment. He certainly changed the world and was arguably content/enlightened but was not rich by American standards.
I guess it depends on what age you are, your genetic disposition, and what cards life has dealt you as to whether you believe you can achieve all three at the same time for a substantial length of time…
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, steve jobs
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, james altucher
, lady ga ga
, martin luther king
, michael dell
, mother teresa
, steve jobs
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I’ve written a lot about love, laughter, and heartache on my blog, but not much about anger or fear. Those are hard emotions to write about. Most of us were taught not to let our anger show and that we should control it. But we’ve seen a few people in our life and on TV lose their cool. We’re told there’s no reason to be afraid. There’s no such thing as ghosts. There’s nothing under your bed. It seems to me that those two feelings/emotions have big hairy monsters in our minds associated with them. They can sometimes be more irrational than real because most of us are not being chased by sharks or big hungry bears, but when we feel these emotions, they feel so real! They can paralyze us. They cause stress. They cause health problems. They can make us think we are not good enough or not worthy of love and happiness.
Entrepreneurs and pretty much anyone who has a job and/or is a full time parent face these demons every day. It’s how we deal with it and how we treat others that counts. Compassion can alleviate fears. Empathy and encouragement can help people achieve things they never thought they could. Fear and Anger can make people get things done (e.g., dark ages, torture, and slaves who built the Egyptian pyramids) but it can make them sick and unhappy at the same time. It can cause a ripple effect on society, on their spouse, or their kids. If people are unhappy at work, it has been shown they are more abusive at home and don’t treat their co-workers well. I believe encouraging, loving environments create exponentially better outcomes. Is it because I’m a woman? I don’t think so. I think Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa, many great business leaders, and Gandhi felt the same way. Maybe they don’t get as much media attention but go find the places in your city that are consistently voted the best places to work and you’ll see successful businesses with great leaders who care, trust, and believe in their employees.
We are all flawed humans, but the thing that keeps us connected is empathy and love. Without that connection and belief in each other, we might as well be on an island alone or dead. We can start businesses and scare people to do what we think they should, but the best will leave because in the modern world they have other choices than to be beaten & downtrodden and to lay bricks while being whipped. You’ll end up with “yes men/women” who are too afraid to tell you what’s really going on because they are scared for their livelihoods. But you’ll be surprised at the psychology of some of us humans because a lot of us don’t realize our genius. I’ll leave you with a quote from Jeffry Fry’s daily email he sent out July 16, 2011 that’s still in my inbox and printed & pasted to the pillar near my cube at work:
“Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing it is stupid.” –Albert Einstein
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