The worst word in the English Language

June 10, 2009          Comments (5)


I think the ultimate paradox in life, and especially as an entrepreneur, is to never be complacent. But of course, the paradox is that if you’re never complacent how can you appreciate what you have?

I do believe happiness is a choice. Either choose to focus on what you do have. Or choose to focus on what you don’t have. Either way, it’s a choice.

Complacency is the evil antithesis of ambition. And I certainly don’t want to spend my life pursuing happiness. After all, that is flawed! Happiness is right here, right now.

In entrepreneurship the topic of more will forever be a hot one. More customers, more revenue, more profit, more clients, more inventory, more space and on and on. But when is enough, enough? Are you ever going to be satisfied? Are you ever not going to want more?

The problem with ambition is that the very thing that drives someone to want to do certain things makes them not appreciate those things once they achieve them. “What’s next? Now what? I want more!”

I think the word more applies to every aspect of our lives. How about the never ending game “Keeping up with the Joneses,” where the players who choose to play never win. Someone is always going to have the latest and greatest. And spending your entire life looking at what you don’t have doesn’t seem like much fun.

What is success?

Bertrand Russell said, “Success is getting what you want, happiness is wanting what you get.”

I used to think success was having private planes and helicopters with ridiculous mansions and cars. But who cares how rich you are if you aren’t happy? I certainly don’t.

And I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with having (or wanting) those things. I just question why you really do.

You always hear people saying I want to be successful. What does that even mean?

Do you want people to respect you? Do you want your kids to adore you? Do you want your spouse to be in love with you? Do you want to be able to say fuck you to people? Do you want power? Do you want influence? Do you want access? Do you want freedom?

It seems as though so many people (including myself) are obsessed with more and success – when in fact, what you ultimately want might be right in front of your face.

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  1. Adam,

    I really enjoyed this post, maybe because this is something I tackle often. Obviously, I want to be successful. Right now in my life that means having a decent income (though I’m not all that money-driven), and freedom (that’s my pot of gold at the end of the rainbow right now.)

    But you’re so right b/c success will depend on our circumstances, on our situation. When I have a family, CMO of a fortune 500 or entrepreneur of the year will likely take a back seat to coaching my kids little league team, and spending time with my family.

    Good insights that I think are valuable for people in all walks of life, but especially the young professional.

    Comment by Ryan Stephens — June 10, 2009 @ 5:49 pm

  2. Thanks, Ryan!

    Comment by Adam Gilbert — June 11, 2009 @ 4:22 pm

  3. yeah! I totally agree with you! we’re always going to want more and more if we keep a consistent attitude. I think sometimes we just need a vacation away from the city. A head change in perspective is a great jump start to a new and exciting mindset. 😉

    Comment by taney — July 7, 2009 @ 2:57 am

  4. […] The worst word in the English language. So many people think the answer to all of their problems is more: more things, more money, more […]

    Pingback by Guru Gilbert » My Top 17 Posts of 2009! — December 29, 2009 @ 11:16 am

  5. […] I’ve questioned the point of being insanely ambitious and successful to the nth degree. I think many people believe this is the key to happiness. I think most people are just chasing wind. […]

    Pingback by Guru Gilbert » The Paradox of Dating Tremendously Successful People — April 9, 2010 @ 8:41 am

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