“For everything you have missed, you have gained something else; and for everything you gain, you lose something else.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
The word sacrifice is often associated with entrepreneurs. Young business owners like myself often get peppered with questions about making less money or living with their parents or spending less time at the bar with friends, all in the name of their company. As you get older you usually have to deal with paying a mortgage, balancing a marriage, and spending time with your kids.
It’s easy to second guess your decision to start a company. One truth that has always helped me: it is not humanly impossible to have everything in life. There are always tradeoffs with every decision you make, every day, large or small. Some people might look like they have it all together – they don’t. I’m sure you envy Michael Jordan for all of his fame and success…but I’m sure he envies you for being able to take a stroll in the park with your girlfriend without getting mobbed.
We’re in an interesting position with our company right now in the sense that our large development projects are done and DI/TD sales are good enough that we can all take our foot off the pedal just a little bit. From this point on I think we could each work a 40 hour work week (or probably a little less) and the company would still grow. In the 2+ years since I left my job I’ve never quite been in this position. It makes you really, really think about your choices and how you spend your time.
Adam Gilbert did a series of posts about How to Tell if Someone is Full of Shit a while back. His way of finding out what is really important to someone: take a look at their calendar. We all have a finite time to spend on earth and how we spend it tells others what we truly care about.
A lot of people always talk about what they want to do, what they want to accomplish, what they meant to do, their intentions, how they want to change the world and on and on and on.
It seems as though everyone has intentions of doing big things. Clearly, sadly and unfortunately, that’s not the case. Most people are talkers, rather than doers. Let’s face it. It’s a lot easier to talk than do.
In a world where people are moving a million miles per minute how can you actually tell what someone really cares about?
Look at their calendar! It’s that simple.
Your calendar never lies. All we have is our time. The way we spend our time is our priorities, is our strategy. Your calendar knows what you really care about.
I never understand people who work 20 hour days yet preach about how important their family is to them. Really?
I’m not trying to say that running a business isn’t hard or doesn’t require tough decisions (read any random five posts on this blog and it’s evident we’ve gone through our fair share of struggles as a company and that I’ve had many of my own personal frustrations). My point is this: stop saying “what if?” and “I wish I did that”. Think really hard about what’s important to you and find a way to spend time doing that. If you factor that into every decision to make, there’s no reason to second guess yourself. “Failures” are learning experiences just as much (or more than) “successes”.
Every once in a while I ask myself “what if” about an array of topics (business, sports, life, relationships) and I always come to the same conclusion: I’ve spent my time doing what I love most, each and every day. Several times I’ve even written out my “ideal day” on a sheet of paper and each time I realize that it pretty closely resembles my real day right now…how cool is that? Sure there are other things I’d like to do. Sure I’d like a little more work-life balance. But how can I call what I’ve done “sacrifice” when I’ve gained so much in return? Just because what I do is different from what most people do in their twenties doesn’t make it any harder or any easier than the norm. As I age and priorities change, my ideal day will change and in turn so will my real day. In the meantime, I’ve met so many great people and had so much fun building our company that I can’t imagine anything making me happier.