As I prepare to launch-launch my book, I’ve been stepping back and thinking deeply about why I wrote The Guide in the first place.
Why did I step back from my own career? And why does this work matter so much to me that I left Wall Street to do something that has been back-breaking?
I come back to two answers.
First, this isn’t what we signed up for.
Those of us who did everything right.
Some of us decades ago, in school, put our heads down and started working hard. We got top grades, went to top schools, got top jobs, and then what?
Well, many of us worked harder…and harder…and harder…and harder still.
But, how many of us have careers that are working hard for us?
When this work began for me, in Menlo Park in 2000, in the aftermath of the Internet bubble bursting and half of my office being fired, I wondered, is this what it is meant to be?
Is this what I have worked so hard to achieve?
Am I living the career and life of my dreams?
How many of my brothers and sisters are? Not just on Wall Street, but all of us who’ve done the right things, and worked our tails off. How many of us are living the lives we dream?
That’s the first thing I stand for. The second is somewhat contradictory.
Few of us are living the lives of our dreams because we have done too little to earn it.
We live with the illusion that if we put our heads down and work hard, that is sufficient.
It is not. It is insufficient.
Working hard doesn’t work for you because working hard is insufficient.
Few of us smart, hard-working people will ever live the lives of our dreams because we are operating at a fraction of our potential.
Most people are bored to death because they can do their job with half their brain tied up thinking about what they’d rather be doing.
Sure, they work long hours, but how much of their potential does their job require?
What hard things must they do? How often are they pushing beyond their limits? How often are they stretched to the point of failure? How many of them are reading and learning and growing, just to keep up?
Nearly everyone is running themselves ragged working around the clock, but most of them are monkeying around.
My bet is 90% of some of the smartest, hardest working people are operating at less than 50% of their potential.
That’s not because most of us are lazy, but because we’re living a lie.
Get good grades. Get a good job. Work hard. Ride off into the sunset. That’s the message that is drummed into us from an early age.
But you only need to look at nearly everyone in our society to know that is an illusion—and even if you make the money, a mostly unhappy one at that!
Instead, the story I wrote, the story I live, what I stand for is different:
Set lofty goals. Stretch your potential. Learn. Grow. Challenge yourself. Do hard things. Become everything you can be.
Going after it this way, not only do you work less hours and have more success, but you no longer need to build the life of your dreams. Every day you are living it!!