Recently I saw this quote from Mark Cuban—“Work like there is someone working 24 hours a day to take it all away from you.”
Back in the day I would have vigorously agreed, but not today.
While his quote might powerfully resonate in sport, like Andy Grove’s notion of business paranoia it is hardly a fulfilling way to live your life.
Paradox of Success
A couple of weeks ago over dinner with a Silicon Valley hitter, we got talking about the relationship between success and happiness.
He observed that although the big name Silicon Valley players seem to have it all, when you spend time with some of them, seeing them running ragged chasing the next bouncing ball, you wonder, where is the joyfulness?
This I call the paradox of success—The more success you achieve, the more success you require to feel fulfilled.
Not to dump this complex subject on you right here, but the paradox is that the success-driven brain isn’t programmed for happiness.
It is programmed to believe that when it achieves success—which is impossible because success can always be defined as “more”—happiness will follow.
But it doesn’t. The brain and happiness don’t work that way. Hence why Robin Williams hung himself from a door and many successful people have more dollars than smiles.
People identified to their “success program” will never be happy because like the “oxygen program” that demands constant breathing, the success program’s desire for more, more, more can never be satisfied.
Not to rain on the world’s consumer parade, but this is why us humans will keep getting more wealthy and less happy.
Take Time Away From It
My success program has served me exceptionally well, but the morning after my dinner flying out to Vail I decided to check it with the luggage at the plane door.
I resolved: No writing. No reading. Minimal emails, client calls, and ranting like Geoff Blades.
It wasn’t easy for me. I love my work and in many ways doing my work is doing what I want (and indeed even experimenting with not working is working), but in taking time off I returned to New York with fresh realizations.
I used to brag that on a weekend trip to Cabo while sitting by the pool I read half a dozen books, but today I would just be hanging with my girl in the sun.
A suicide bomber working for 72 virgins and a maniacal Silicon Valley player might be driven by different goals, but neither of them is living today.
Do yourself a favor this summer. Check your success program and find the time to kick back and smell the sunshine!