This post is a follow-up from my Quora post about things I’ve learned in business. One thing the question, “What are the biggest lessons you have learned in the corporate world?” did not address is what is the flip side? By that I mean, what lessons have I learned about the consequences of being successful?
I recently came across a Stephen King quote about talent being as common as table salt, and that what separates successful from non-successful is hard work. I firmly believe that hard work is the core of being successful, regardless of your vocation.
I had one comment on my Quora post from a woman who took issue with the comment that what I had learned was that I couldn’t control how smart I was, but I could work longer and harder than other people. She took issue with it because she said I would immediately anger anyone with a child or any other situation that didn’t allow them to work long hours. She went on to spout research about how working long hours isn’t productive, that my boss must have been stupid because good bosses know all this, and that she read 30% faster than other people, so she didn’t have to work as hard as others to get as much done.
I don’t get arrogant much, but here it goes – I would crush her in a business situation. But, this post isn’t about that, it’s about what she alluded to, even though she didn’t realize that she did. The result and/or consequences of my working so hard would be significant.
I’ve missed birthdays, graduations, anniversaries and more because of my work ethic and my drive to work harder than other people. It was one of the reasons I ended up divorced at 28 years old. But, you have to ask yourself, what do you want out of life? If you want to be successful and at the top of your profession, you will have to sacrifice a lot of non-work time. No one gets to the top without this. It’s just not possible. Do you think people like Zuckerberg and Bezos spent time with family while building their businesses? I highly doubt it. So it comes down to how much you’re willing to sacrifice to be successful.
When I was younger, I was willing to sacrifice anything to be better than my colleagues, and it worked. I was promoted annually and never received less than an 11% raise per year, something I was always told was never repeated, and I shouldn’t expect the next year. I received an annual 11% raise each of my first three years working on a salary.
Now I laugh at 11% raises.
There’s a saying about success having its cost, and it does. But like everything in life, if you can afford it, or are willing to pay for it, the sky is the limit.