“Love your problems, because consciously or not, as an adult you pick them.”
I caught a bit of Colin Cowherd’s show on ESPN the other day. Cowherd was using Tiger Woods, as well as other elite athletes, as an example of what it takes to be successful.
Here is a snippet of what Cowherd said:
“Tiger is now a better human thus Tiger is a worse golfer. For 20 years the best athletes: the Tigers, and Kobes, and Peyton Mannings and MJs are selfish, and they have to be. You can’t be a 9 to 5 guy, best Dad in the world, there for your wife every night and be the best in the world at anything. What often makes the best athlete would make a terrible human. The most balanced people I’ve ever met who have got their family and job and relationships and social life just perfectly coordinated are never ever the most successful people. To be a great Dad you gotta give stuff up. And to be the best golfer, you gotta be manic.”
Cowherd went on about this for a while; trying to make the point that in order to be extremely successful in your field the rest of your life must suffer. He referenced the book “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell and Gladwell’s 10,000 hours theory. Gladwell basically states and gives supporting evidence that in order to become an absolute expert in whatever you’re doing, you must clock in 10,000 hours at the task. Cowherd concluded from this that there is no way you would be able to maintain relationships or any sort of balanced life because there simply wouldn’t be enough time. (Even though Gladwell’s theory is 10,000 hours over a lifetime.)
One will be successful in life in whatever one chooses to be successful in. It’s all about your priorities. If you’re a hard working businessman and building a hugely successful business is one of your goals in life, then you will work hard to make sure that goal is achieved. If you also have the goal of having a partner in life and raising children with that partner, then you will also make that task a priority in your life. One can work hard at more than one task; the question is does one want to? Is it a priority for them?
I remember a few years ago, after a Christmas Eve football game I was standing in the parking lot with Quarterback Philip Rivers. Rivers said, “Alright, gotta get home and put together a swing set.” He just won a nationally televised NFL game. He wasn’t going out to celebrate at the strip club with his friends. He was going home to put together his children’s Christmas gifts. Because he decided that he wanted to have a family, and he makes the success of that family a priority in his life. Sure, other guys on the team probably went out to celebrate, and that’s fine, because maybe they didn’t decide to have families, maybe they have a different priority: having a good time, celebrating, etc. I’m not saying what’s right or wrong in this situation, all I’m saying is that we all have choices. And we can be successful at whatever we choose if we truly make it a priority.
I love the book “Outliers.” I think it’s fascinating the way Gladwell breaks down the achievements of several successful people and points out the common themes to their success. (If you haven’t read it, you definitely should.) However, I don’t think that just because you dedicate a huge portion of your life to pursuing a specific career that your personal life must suffer. It certainly can suffer…I think we’ve all seen or heard enough examples of celebrities’ lives falling apart.
Yes, a ton of time and energy given to one task or pursuit will most definitely leave you with little time to spare. Of course you may miss out on certain events in the lives of your loved ones: after school activities, soccer games, recitals. But showing up for your child’s soccer game isn’t the definition of being a good parent. It takes a lot more than that.
I believe that people choose their lives. We’re all born into different circumstances out of our control, but as adults we choose our lives. So when a super successful person is not able to maintain a meaningful relationship it’s because THEY didn’t choose to. THEY didn’t choose to make it a priority. If a priority in your life is to live with integrity and have respect for others, then ALL of your relationships will have those qualities present in them; from your relationship with your spouse to your relationship with the guy that works at your local Starbucks. It’s all about priorities and desires.
I don’t think we should be spreading the idea that in order to be extremely successful in your profession, you must treat the people in your life horribly and everything else in your life must be manic. So… we’re basically telling young people, who dream of huge success, that they should prepare to have awful personal lives because they’ll only really have enough time to focus on their golf swing?