As I lay on my deathbed, I think to myself, “I wish I had made more money.”
How crazy does that sound, right? I agree! And I’m not on my deathbed thinking that either. Actually, I’m not on my deathbed at all. I’m quite healthy. It’s just that I was watching a news story recently about the economy. More specifically, a news story about a few different people who have started their own businesses during these tough economic times. And there was one business owner, in particular, who brought the above phrase to my mind.
DISCLAIMER: I acknowledge that I do not personally know this woman / business owner, and that she may very well be a wonderful (and highly involved) parent. I am only going by how she was portrayed (to me) through this broadcast.
Having said that…
While watching this “successful” mother / business owner initiate a conference call from home at 9-ish pm one evening (which was said to be the norm for her, working morning until night), after it was just reported that her business has now made something like $1,000,000, I turned to my husband and commented (a bit too harsh/judgmental, probably),
“Successful?” I wouldn’t consider that to be a “success”. When you achieve something great, while maintaining balance, THAT is “success”. How can one consider them self to be “successful” when a huge area of their life is being so neglected. I mean, how many people have laid on their death beds thinking “I wish I had made more money during my lifetime”? I don’t think that THAT’S what people normally wish they could go back and re-do or get more of. This woman has achieved financial wealth, yet she keeps her family on the back burner so that she can make a career out of “growing” her already successful business? That’s not “success”, that’s just sad.
During the interview, this woman also commented something to the effect of, “Your business won’t be successful if you approach it as a hobby. You have to put everything that you have into it.” True enough! HOWEVER, I am seeing a woman who has now created a very successful business, who has established a good income from that business, and who (as it appeared in the story being told) still spends all day and evening working at growing her business. This only bothers me because I get the impression that this business owner’s main focus is about forever growing her business, with all that she has, and that there is no plateau in sight (or even a business partner, from what I can tell, to help shoulder the load so that she can balance work & home). It seems as though she believes that the “success of her business”, and all that she puts into it, is what “makes her a success”.
As a work-from-home mother and wife, myself, I can relate to the desire (and/or need) to create and maintain a successful business. I really can. I’m not knocking her for wanting to do that and, again, I don’t know her whole story. It saddens me, though, when I think of what others sacrifice (because, even if it isn’t this woman, there are others who do it) solely for the sake of “success” (money and status alone). In my mind, there is no success when one is neglecting their home in order to embark on an infinite mission to attain greater financial wealth (well above what is needed) and/or a certain business status.
PLEASE don’t get me wrong, I do believe in:
- working to provide comfortable lives for ourselves (including retirement) and for our families,
- being courageous enough to follow our dreams and, in turn, teaching our children to do the same,
- and instilling, in our children, the importance of hard work.
I was fortunate enough to be born into a family of hard workers, who passed along their values to me. My dad worked in (and retired from) the automotive industry, never missing days from work for illnesses nor injuries (not even when he broke his toe, one day before work, trying to scare me as I came in the door from school… jumping out from behind doors was a common activity of ours during my youth). My mom (whether she worked outside of our home or not) was often straightening up the house, washing dishes, preparing meals, doing laundry, and mostly everything else that it took to run the inner workings of our household. And my grandparents (who lived just down the street from us, and so were very involved in our lives) had always been hard workers too… even owning a dry cleaning business at one time. Yet, my parents (for the most part) had set work hours and when they “clocked out” at work, they “clocked out”. Work didn’t follow them home, my siblings and I weren’t not tucked in at night because mom was on a business call, and we weren’t deprived uninterrupted family time due to bookkeeping or meetings (whether it was watching our favorite television shows together or taking little family trips up north).
“The measure of a man’s success in life is not the money he’s made.
It’s the kind of family he has raised.” – Kennedy
“Raising a family” requires one’s attention and genuine interactions, that go above and beyond the general inquiries of “Did you do your homework?” or “Did you brush your teeth?”. I’m not stating, nor implying, that the woman mentioned above (in the first couple paragraphs) seldom speaks to her children. I have no idea, it was just a quick story about her business and not her family. I just feel that (for anyone) there is a point where growing a business, career status, and/or financial portfolio can, if allowed, cross a line into “sheer greed” (when financial wealth/status has been reached, and when that form of wealth is the only thing that continues to be gained). So, to those business-driven parents, I would like to share with you that there is absolutely no price that I would sell my fond family memories for. The memory of my mom rocking a young me in our wooden rocking chair, after my fingers were closed in a bed room door (due to horseplay that we, children, shouldn’t have been doing in the first place), is priceless. The memory of my dad taking our family fishing on Father’s Day one year (even though I was the only one that wanted to go) does not have a price tag. The happiness felt when I would run down to my Grandparent’s house and find my Grandpa and his brother relaxing under the walnut tree in the backyard is a memory that no one could bribe from me (because I just loved sitting around under that walnut tree spending time with those two, and the vivid mental images of those days still make me smile every time I see them). There’s is nothing, that any of my loved ones could leave behind, more precious than the memories of our time together.
“Success always leaves footprints.”
― Booker T. Washington
Being that money can be spent, assets can be sold or given away, and businesses can be closed or sold off, can these things (alone) really be counted as “footprints”? If not, and if there were no true footprints left behind, was there really any “success” had? And, if they can be considered as footprints, of what quality are they (if there was little to no positive interactions had with loved ones during those business years)? Further, as you travel down this path that you’re on (whichever path that may be), please choose your steps carefully, as it is likely that your children will walk in your footprints and mimic the choices that you have made.
“You’ve achieved success in your field when you don’t know
whether what you’re doing is work or play.”
- Warren Beatty
I am not getting (monetarily) rich, by any means, through what I am doing. But (because I am blessed to be in a position that allows me to) I am pursuing my dreams, I am doing what makes me happy, and (even though I am putting A LOT of work into this endeavor) my “work” does feel like a hobby more times than not. And, I can only attribute this to the fact that I am maintaining a healthy balance between family, self, and helping others.
I know that My Life and Advice is evolving at it’s own steady pace, and that if I put ALL of my time and effort into it, I could speed that area of “success” along. However, that wouldn’t make me successful. My family and I, along with this mission/website of mine, are heading down the path to “bigger and better” things together… because I know that “without balance, one will fall”, and I also never want to lose that “my work is my hobby and my hobby is my work” feeling. It’s not that I don’t want My Life and Advice to grow beyond my hopes and dreams, and to provide a decent income one day which allows me to contribute more to those who are less fortunate. I do! But if I have to sacrifice one or more of my priorities (long term) in order to build a high earning website, or make sacrifices that cause my work to stop feeling like a hobby and start feeling more like work, what have I accomplished and at what price?
“Success has nothing to do with what you gain in life or
accomplish for yourself. It’s what you do for others.”
- Danny Thomas
When physical bodies “die”, souls do not cross over with large bank accounts or material assets. That type of wealth doesn’t even matter. The “success” that we take with us is comprised of the knowledge, feelings, and memories in which we’ve achieved/developed/created through personal growth, and from the priceless interactions that we gifted to others.
“That man is a success who has lived well, laughed often and loved much.”
- Robert Louis Stevenson
In closing, our time here on earth is limited, so please spend yours wisely… and, the time that you have is far more valuable than any money you’ll earn.
“Tomorrow is promised to no one”
My Life and Advice (.com)