“If you don’t change direction, you may end up where you are heading.” ~ Lao Tzu
Recently I spoke with 40 individuals for a full day seminar to expand their businesses and their lives. Wanting to stretch their minds, encourage bigger dreams and remind them that anything is possible, I asked what they would do professionally if they knew they could not fail.
After a moment of reflection, a brave gentleman stood and proudly announced, “I’d make it big. I mean, like really big!”
I asked what “making it really big” meant to him? He said he wasn’t exactly sure, but he knew he wanted bigger sales, bigger accomplishments and bigger success than any of his friends or former classmates.
This conversation was eerily similar to one I was part of almost a decade earlier with another gentleman. He, too, had strived to “make it really big.” The difference was that the conversation wasn’t taking place in a boardroom with a lifetime of possibility in front of him, but in a hospital room with a lifetime of regrets staring back at him.
You see, in my late 20s I spent a several years working part-time as a hospital chaplain. One emotional visit was with a former business owner suffering from congestive heart failure. He slouched in an over-sized hospital bed, was connected to various tubes and fully aware of his fatal prognosis.
He talked openly and passionately about his life. He spoke of his business and its outstanding success. But he added that it came at the cost of the things that mattered even more to him. He spoke disconsolately about his youth, his family, his health and how he lost each of them through choices made along the way. We visited for over an hour, one of the final things he shared impacted me so deeply that I wrote it down in my journal that night. He said, “John, I spent a lifetime sprinting up the success-ladder only to discover I had the darn thing leaned against the wrong wall.”
My friend, we coach individuals to discover passion, live vibrantly and make a difference. We partner with organizations to increase top line revenue and bottom line profit. We serve hospitals to improve employee engagement in order to elevate patient satisfaction and outcomes. The point is I love growth! The reminder from this story, however, is that not only should our lives be a journey toward continual progress, impact and success, but that these goals must be achieved in accordance with our values, our principles and what matters most in our lives.
My challenge to you today is to choose to make it big. Choose to climb high as a teacher, to soar as a salesperson, to expand as a business owner and to thrive as an employee. Choose to sprint toward success and thrive in life. Just make sure the goals you’re charging toward are moving you toward a life of true significance and not one of regret.
Use this gentleman’s hindsight to give yourself clarity today, before you continue climbing rapidly to the top of the ladder, take pause and make sure its leading you up the right wall.
In the comments, post what hindsight you have to share so that we may learn from your experience and avoid a potential hardship or regret?