“I was not aware of how much vital energy had gone into this struggle until the struggle was removed. I was out on a level plateau with my arms still thrashing and my lungs still grabbing at air that no longer resisted. This was security at last.”
– Tennessee Willams, Catastrophe of Success
Do we really want success and all the apparent security it provides? Is it really what we need? Often you hear stories of successful people that are miserable. Why?
Let’s pause for a second and define what success is.
A. “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.”
B. “the attainment of popularity or profit.”
– Webster, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/success
Unfortunately, most of us consider the second definition without the first. Our culture cultivates in us a heart that aims for the highest dollar. That one day we’ll “make it”. Be one of the greats. Also, known as, one of the people that have amassed the most amount of pieces of paper, or rather numbers on a computer.
I as I look around to the entrepreneurs around me. I find that I end up comparing myself to their level of success. I become captured with how much money they raised with their latest round of funding, or that they struck gold in the entrepreneurship journey and now are the popular kid on the block. Unintentionally I start moving away from the heart of why I started this in the first place. Daydreaming that If I only had “their” success I could do what I wanted.
I’m not alone in this; I fear that many are under this spell in the startup community. You see it in the obsession with following other companies funding rounds. Making such a large event out of raising money, which the vast majority, watching in amazement partially with congrats but albeit mostly wishing they could do they same and putting their dreams on a detour in order to be like them.
This is not to say funding is a bad thing, I think it’s quite fantastic for its purpose. Though often the result of so much publicity around each stage of funding ends up putting many people in a trance and we end up chasing the money instead of our dreams. Focusing on success rather than doing what we love.
When we desire so much for success, often we mean we don’t want to have to struggle. Struggle to get by, struggle to build our companies, struggle to get to our dreams. We want the security afforded to us without having to deal with all the hard stuff along the way.
We try so hard to get around the messy things in our life. To have our life, our startups void of problems in order that we can finally do what we want or get to where we want to go. Isn’t it the problems that in many ways define the deepest parts of us? Where much of our lives and character are forged?
We need to be mindful of how often the lustful eye of others success can drag us to places where we don’t care to be. Causing us only to play the short game. As well as realizing that removing of the struggle shouldn’t be the point in our lives and in entrepreneurship, but rather to live fully in it.