As I’m writing this, I’m on a flight to the beach house in Florida to take a mini-vacay and celebrate Thanksgiving. This year, I won’t be able to take the entire week off as I have in the past due to a growing number of key initiatives I want to keep pushing forward. Work, yes, but not “work” in the sense of being unable to step away due to a failure of my team, a lack of people to do the work, broken things to fix, poor planning, etc., but rather some big plans we have for the coming year that I want to initiate progress on.
If I’m being honest, I sometimes curse my ambition and inability to slow the roll. I CAN do it and have done it, but not nearly as often as I probably should. Like all entrepreneurs, I’m deeply committed to my work and feel a constant sense of urgency, a steady pull on my time and attention – often stressed about all the things I want to get done, often feeling like a revving race car at the start line with anticipation building to “GO and get after” everything I want to accomplish and often unable to take a break. The true entrepreneur is never really “offline.”
MOST people can’t handle the responsibility and workload that comes with that level of ambition – and even I have hard limits compared to a Musk or Bezos. I often quip that life would be a hell of a lot easier if I just didn’t care. But I do, so I work. My ambition, and my ability to handle the stress of profitable growth and the massive responsibility that comes with it, is a blessing. I wouldn’t trade places with anyone else. But make no mistake, it’s taken its toll on me and, if I’m not careful about ensuring I get sufficient sleep, exercise, healthy food and some outdoor time walking the dog and playing in my vegetable garden for a mental break, it would seriously impair my health. This blessing must be managed, like ALL blessings.
This is why all blessings are a curse, all curses a blessing.
I am impatient, aggressive, confrontational and demanding, unafraid to say what needs to be said, which is one of the reasons I’m rich (a blessing). I also cross the line into being too impatient, too aggressive and demanding, saying things I wish I could take back or at least have said differently (a curse). I get meaning and pleasure from hard work (a blessing) but can take it too far and not take a needed break, building a gerbil wheel I can’t easily step off of (a curse).
Children are, in my opinion, one of the greatest blessings anyone can have. You’ll never know how pure and complete love can be until you have a child. But they also come with the “curse” of an enormous amount of responsibility, work, sacrifices, sleepless nights and worry. I’ve never felt more vulnerable and anxious than after I had my girls, wanting to protect and provide for them. While I don’t want anything bad to happen to me or Dan (my husband), I know I could live through it. Something happening to my girls? It’s my greatest fear. Loving someone that much is both a curse and a blessing, obviously FAR GREATER on the blessing scale than the curse scale.
I believe this is why the love of money is admonished in the Bible. It’s actually sage advice. It’s okay to earn money, pursue it through honest means and accumulate it – but real treasure is stored elsewhere, and we should not forget that. As the saying goes, the healthy man has many wishes, goals and wants. The unhealthy man, only one. The same could be said for the man or woman who is severely depressed or lonely: if you have even one good, true friend, consider yourself fortunate.
Conversely, many things I originally saw as a curse turned out to be the biggest blessings I’ve ever received – I just needed time and perspective to be able to appreciate them. Having to fend for myself at a very young age, not having the “pedigree” of a college education (or even a high school diploma), living in poverty and experiencing various traumatic events from early on toughened my hide and, in a big way, have given me the “juice” needed to succeed as I have today. The stick in the “carrot and stick” motivation plan – and the stick is far, far more motivating.
It’s very, very hard to find the grain of good hidden in the “curses” laid upon us. It’s also easy to forget to be grateful for the blessings we have, such as the business we run, since they often bring a greater portion of grief and stress along with them. “Be careful what you wish for” is the cautionary warning given to those who strive for greatness, often given out as a reason NOT to move forward. I believe this is incorrect and instead should be a reminder that every journey to a blessing is not all easy, every coin having two sides, and you want to prepare yourself for the climb. If you wish for money and success, there’s a “price” to be paid and you should be prepared to pay it, gratefully. If it’s paid begrudgingly, you’re assured only misery and a longer, harder journey ahead. Remember this: YOU CHOOSE.
This is obviously the appropriate time of year for me to say thank you and take a moment to be grateful to you, the reader of my rants, whether you’re brand-new, discovering me in the last few months or a “lifer” who’s been with me for over a decade. Mandated by the holiday, no doubt, but nonetheless sincere. There are many, many people in my life that I don’t thank often enough, from my amazing staff and many of the vendors who help us deliver excellent events and services to our members and, of course, the thousands of you who find value in what we do and keep us afloat. You are appreciated.