I’ve had a bit different path in life than most my friends and peers. Many guys my age are higher up the food chain than I am in their careers. Most also don’t have kids and a few no wives.
Sometimes I get a bit down on myself for the path I’ve taken. I was slower to mature both personally and professionally, it took me longer to figure out what made me happy and what I wanted, and I also had kids a bit younger (25) due to my wife being older than I am and wanting them before she was in her mid-30s.
Taking longer to get on an upward path professionally and having kids has handcuffed me professionally. I’ve missed out on many opportunities to go further as an entrepreneur or in my career. I think I’m also considerably less wealthy than I could be (not to say I’d be rich if I were career focused day one out of college).
For example, I was just chatting with a co-worker who is almost exactly a full year younger than I am. He is three levels above me in our organization and the head of a small practice. His wife is an entrepreneur and they’re about to purchase a Tesla Model S to be used as a town car in a limo business that caters exclusively to business men and business travelers.
Part of me feels a little jealous that I can’t get in on the action and be part of the excitement. Part of me feels bummed that I don’t have the capital or earning potential to make such an investment in an exciting business venture like this myself. But then I look up from my desk and see ‘My Big Big Friend’ on the TV set up on the wall, and in front of the TV are two little girls.
Suddenly the world comes a bit more into perspective. At the end of the day, very few of us will go on to be remembered or to have amounted to much of anything at all in the grand scheme of humanity, and on a universal scale, this all means even less.
All that really matters is what fulfills us personally. If that happens to be the excitement of business ventures or making money, then good for you, though I suspect I may have accidentally stumbled onto something much better without even knowing I wanted it.
I’m a pretty damn happy guy. Somehow I’ve learned to have my cake and eat it too for the most part. I feel I juggle having everything I want- the travel and adventure, business opportunities and entrepreneurship, and having a wonderful family- much in the same way an acrobat learns to walk a tightrope.
You start out one step at a time, stumbling, falling and feeling off balance constantly. In time you find your balance improves. Small muscles you never knew existed get soar and fatigued, but eventually they grow stronger, balance improves and you become more adept at managing your external environment, internalizing changes at lightning speed as they attack you from all sides, each threatening to knock you off that high wire.
The same applies to my life. Many of my peers get side tracked by so many external challenges, be that alcoholism or drugs, obesity, adultery, neglecting their families for work or personal indulgences, etc. Somehow I’ve learned to balance it all while brushing off the bad habits that plagues many professional men.
The only word of advice or wisdom I have to share in learning to embrace non-selfishness and self-control. For me this meant realizing that three women depend on me to provide for them and that each and every decision I make not only affects me, but all three of them as well.
Putting the weight of my two daughters and wife’s hopes, dreams, well being and their faith in me on my shoulders keeps me in line during the rough spots. It gives me purpose and focus, and most importantly, it makes me afraid to mess up, out of fear of having to own up to it later on.