Before his death last year, respected businessman Tony Hsieh once defined success as “being okay with losing everything you have.” He died a single man a few years later at 46 as a multimillionaire and pioneer of online shoe sales.
I’ve recently pondered his definition. I like and mostly agree with it. But I would not be okay losing my wife and children. I would be devastated. I suppose I could come to accept it in time and try the best I could to move on. But it sure would break me for a long time.
As a writer, I would not be okay losing my hands or voice, which would prevent me from typing or dictating my thoughts. But I’d like to think I would be capable of reinventing myself and using my inquisitive talents in other ways.
Perhaps that’s what Hsieh meant by success. A living person that is capable of finding new meaning and contributing in new ways at any point of their life.
But I believe success can and should be so much more than that. If anything I would hope that when I’m gone, the world is a slightly better place, at least in my little village.
What do you think, kind reader?
If you insist on setting 5, 10, or 30 year goals in life, you’re gonna have a bad time.
The reason: Long-terms goals are mostly arbitrary and futile. Since life is full of surprise, setting specific expectations for it largely results in a feeling of failure.
In other words, “Don’t aim at success,” writes Viktor Frankl in his seminal Man’s Search For Meaning. “The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it.”
This has certainly been the case in my life. Continue reading…
Me hiking the Inca Trail
Here’s something you might not know about my work as a writer: 30-40% of my time is spent asking people if I can write for them, while the remaining 60-70% is spent on actually writing.
In other words, I’m either a writer who knows how to sell or a salesman who knows how to write. Consequently, I would’t have survived the past 15 years if I hadn’t asked thousands of people each year to let me write for them. I would have wilted long ago had I listened to the few rouge naysayers that rudely tell me to get lost sometimes.
Case in point: of the hundreds of emails I send on a monthly basis, the vast majority are ignored. Continue reading…
After a decade of self employment, I’ve been told “no” several thousand times. I have records. For the same period, I’ve been told “yes” a few dozen times. Fewer than a hundred. I have records of that, too.
As you can tell, I–like most humans, salesmen, and business owners–experience rejection more than acceptance. Unlike many people, however, I don’t let that discourage me as a proprietor. But I almost did once.
From the “never give up” files—Last month, I received a suprisingly condescending email in response to a story I was pitching. “Does this strike you as something we would publish?”
It was sent by a deputy editor from the nation’s third largest newspaper. “I was hoping it might it might fit your travel section, which I guessed you might oversee,” I replied. “Would you be willing to forward to the appropriate editor?”
The next day, the gentlemen apologized for being rude. But then he continued “in a spirit of friendliness” to list many greviences in a patronizing 350 word follow-up.
To many boys (and some girls), professional athletes are modern-day heroes. Iconic celebrities with fame, fortune, and power. What wide-eye youth wouldn’t want the same?
Turns out, a lot of them do. (With oversized Bo Jackson and Michael Jordan posters adorning my childhood walls, I certainly did.) But as with all desirable things in life, getting paid to play sports isn’t easy.
In fact, the odds are downright nasty for aspiring players, according to new data from the NCAA.
After failing to reverse the declining fortunes of the fourth largest company in the world, outgoing Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer teared up this week in his exit interview with WSJ.
“Maybe I’m an emblem of an old era, and I have to move on,” he said. “As much as I love what I’m doing, the best way for Microsoft to enter a new era is with a new leader.”
That must be an incredibly difficult thing to admit. I respect that. To ease his pain, Ballmer gets $18 billion in retirement. Pity him.