In a recent sales training Mastermind session, a business owner was lamenting that after 20 years in business he thought he would have had things figured out, and he wondered – out loud – “when will things slow down and become easier and less stressful? When will I get to the point where I don’t have to continue to push, push, push, and sell, sell, sell”? I suggested we go to the nearest cemetery where he could pick out any spot he wished, lie down and I would get a shovel.” Subtle I am not. He was shocked and a bit pissed with my flippant retort. The other members of the Mastermind group were more gentle and explained to him that things will never get easier. When he recovered, I suggested he read Scott Peck’s book, “The Road Less Traveled”. The first sentence in that book is “Life is difficult”. That pretty much says it all.
When my two daughters were small, I worried about them crossing the street alone. These days I worry about them driving on those same highways. I used to think – when I was renting – that if I could just someday own my own home things would be grand. Today, I own two homes and I spend more time than I would like trying to keep those homes up. I used to think if I only had a swimming pool at my home I would be thrilled. Today, I have that pool. I spend more time maintaining it than I do swimming in it. I used to think that if I could only own a nice fishing boat that would take me offshore, I would be happy. Today I own that boat – which costs more than many people’s homes – and the maintenance required to keep it up consumes way too much of my time. I used to think that if I ever made $100,000 a year life would be easy. Today I make many hundreds of thousands a year and life is not easier. Different yes, easier no. All I have done is substitute one situation and one set of problems for another.
If you think that life will somehow get easier and less stressful if you just make more money, or get rid of some bills you have, or get your kids through college, or lose twenty pounds, you need to think again. Life never gets easier it just becomes different.
Don’t get me wrong. I am grateful and even thankful for what I have and I am by no means complaining. I would rather own a home than be homeless. I would rather own a boat than not, I would rather be rich than poor and I would rather have the autonomy that comes with owning my own business than working for “The Man”. I am simply making an observation.
Optimism is required to plan, to act and to persevere. Blind optimism and unrealistic or inaccurate thinking leads to false expectations and disappointment, if not utter failure. Like the overly optimistic and unrealistic film-maker who thought he could get up close and personal with a family of bears. He did just that. All was well till the bears ran out of food. He thought himself an optimist. I called him a fool. The bears called him tasty.