What would you say if I told you that by adopting one simple principle you could achieve massive success while enjoying the process? In fact, this one principle is often the difference between a lifetime of happiness or misery. What's this one principle you ask? Glad you asked. This one principle is the realization that the journey itself is both the success and the reward.
George Bernard Shaw nailed it when he said,
"Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself."
I agree, creating yourself is key. But how do you create yourself while incorporating the journey itself into your life?
Let me illustrate with a personal story.
Upon graduation from my MBA program I started an online company called Embanet to deliver online programs to working professionals. My goal was to have to 10,000 enrollments go through my company, and in the process, change the social fabric of society.
As with any entrepreneurial activity, getting started is always the most difficult. I was no exception. However, after many failures and setbacks, I began build traction. It took three years of my life and everything I had. Literally. All of my time and the little capital I scrounged together went into Embanet.
As I zeroed in on 10,000 enrollments, a funny thing happened. I changed my goal from 10,000 to 25,000.
Embanet reached 10,000 enrollments and flew right by it. When I reached 10,000 enrollments I smiled for a brief moment before jumping right back in to achieving 25,000 enrollments. As I neared 25,000 enrollments, once again, I change my goal to 50,000 enrollments. And as 50,000 enrollments came into sight I changed my goal again to 100,000 enrollments.
Starting to see a pattern?
What I haven't mentioned is that my life was miserable. Yes, the business began to thrive and prosper, but at the expense of myself, and unfortunately, all those around me.
So called conventional wisdom would say that this is the price of success. I believed conventional wisdom until I had to make a choice.
So called conventional wisdom dictated that I had to make a choice to have a life filled with meaningful relationships or have a successful business. In this scenario each option is mutually exclusive. It's one or the other. On the one hand is a life rich with memories, smiles, love and laughter. On the other, is a life filled with material riches and financial freedom.
What would you choose?
In my case, neither choice 'cut it.'
My entrepreneurial mindset and 'can do' attitude challenged me to blend both options together. It was one of the most difficult things I've done. Fast forward a few years and Embanet far exceeded all my goals and expectations. And I enjoyed the process!
What's the secret you ask?
In the past, I've written about how success without fulfillment is a failure. You can click here to read my success post. While true, what's missing from this is the journey itself.
[tweet_box design="default" float="none"]The Journey is and always will be both the success and reward.[/tweet_box]
Let me say that again.
The journey is and always will be both the success and reward.
All too often entrepreneurs create a 'big hairy audacious goal.' The fortunate few who achieve it are usually miserable. Lack of time, sleep, and meaningful interactions is a high price to pay for 'success.'
When the goal becomes the means to the end, well, something's wrong.
After all, a goal is just a goal.
When I realized that the journey is both the reward and the success, an amazing thing happened. My business took off as I shot past the goals that were once out of reach.
Not a chance.
On a personal note, I believe the harder I work the 'luckier' I get.
Enjoying the journey had me enjoy life. As I began to enjoy life I was happier and had more to give my family, friends, customers, staff, and community. In a very real way, by taking care of myself I expanded my reach and ability to take care of everything and everyone else.
Before going forward let me remind you that when I made the decision to enjoy the journey I was not a success. I still lacked capital and business experience. To the outside world, both myself and Embanet was a failure waiting to happen.
Let me be clear. There was an intense amount of pressure. I put everything on the line for Embanet.
So how do you enjoy the journey?
For me, I began by asking questions.
I made a conscious effort every day to take time out and ask these five questions throughout the day:
As simple as this sounds, it worked.
[tweet_box design="default" float="none"]Asking the right questions is the secret ingredient that paves the way to success.[/tweet_box]
A meaningful and successful life is not about checking off a to-do list. Instead, a meaningful life is about enjoying the losses and much as the wins. I'll say two things about my biggest losses. First, my biggest losses prepared me for the success that was waiting for me. Second, some of my best memories today come from those so-called losses.
[tweet_dis]The difference between Entrepreneurs and Wantrepreneurs is how they deal with losses.[/tweet_dis]
A wantrepreneur loves the idea of being in business but quits the moment problems arise. An entrepreneur loves being in business, making a difference, AND welcomes problems. From problems arise solutions that help people, change society and make a difference. You don't think so? You'll hopefully think otherwise when we look at these three companies:
Netflix - Solved the problem of returning DVDs and late fees before it rocked its industry by moving to streaming movies online.
Uber - Solved the problem of expensive, unreliable, and inconvenient taxis.
Facebook - Solved the problem of keeping in touch with friends and family.
For the entrepreneur, problems are a blessing.
As you look to the next year of your life, and beyond, you have a choice to make.
Do you want to live a life of being or a life of doing?
A small question with a big impact.
One path has you checking off the items on your to-do list. It may feel great for the moment. You may even get things done. But I'll bet that sooner or later you'll feel that something is missing if you even make it that far. The other path has you achieving your goals while you enjoy the process. All of it. You realize that the so called failures are needed as much as the wins. Whether you realize it or not, enjoying the journey allows you to enjoy the moment. And if we're honest about it, the moment is all you have.
Let me share with you a story that has become a classic on the internet. The unknown author who wrote this is brilliant. The story goes like this:
"A professor of philosophy stood before his class with some items in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly he picked up a large empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with rocks about two inches in diameter. He then asked the students if the jar was full.
They agreed that it was full.
So the professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly and watched as the pebbles rolled into the open areas between the rocks. The professor then asked the students again if the jar was full.
They chuckled and agreed that it was indeed full this time.
The professor picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. The sand filled the remaining open areas of the jar. “Now,” said the professor, “I want you to recognize that this jar signifies your life. The rocks are the truly important things, such as family, health, and relationships. If all else was lost and only the rocks remained, your life would still be meaningful. The pebbles are the other things that matter in your life, such as work or school. The sand signifies the remaining “small stuff” and material possessions.
If you put the sand into the jar first, there is no room for the rocks or the pebbles. The same can be applied to your lives. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are truly important."
The journey helps you prioritize what's important and differentiates between 'doing' and 'being.' This is why we are called human "being"s and not human doings.
With all this said, let me tie this all together for you. When it comes to extremely successful people, I find there's one universal commonality. In either speaking with them, reading about them, or working them I've heard the same thing. This one thing is that true happiness does not come from travel, the latest material toys or zeroes in a bank.
Yes, money in the bank can help. And let's not fool ourselves, for a short period of time having the latest and greatest material things can be fun and exciting. However, what you need to factor in this equation is evolution. You, me, and every person on this planet are hard-wired to become accustomed to our surroundings. In no time flat, you stop noticing how big and beautiful your house is. That brand new car that had your heart skip a beat every time you looked at it is now just a car. In no time at all, you're now lusting after the next purchase or trip.
Let's call it for what it is. Money in and of itself doesn't buy happiness.,
For the ultra-successful, happiness comes from a life that's rich with wonderful memories through daily rituals that all allow the enjoyment of each and every day.
Something to ponder.
The simplest things in life are usually the best, and often, the most difficult to implement. In our go-go-go society recognizing the journey as both your success and reward is deceptively difficult. Once mastered, however, you’re in a league of your own. Knowing what’s not important helps you brush aside the time-consuming activities that confuse activity with progress. Life is precious. And life can pass by in the blink of an eye. With this in mind, make every moment count knowing that the journey is both your reward and success. Welcome your losses as much as you welcome your wins knowing that your journey has you exactly where you need to be at this precise moment. Your success is waiting for you. The only question is if you are ready for your success. The journey is the one thing that prepares you to welcome your success.
Here’s to you and your success as you continue your journey with this key insight.
My Warmest Regards,
Jeffrey E. Feldberg