“It’s seven minutes past midnight Tom. Stop working!” My friend texted me back in response to me asking him to help title my TEDx talk. Shortly after our exchange, I fell into a deep sleep but feeling like somehow, despite his words, I still wasn’t working hard enough because there was so much more I wanted, and needed, to do. When is enough enough?
In the morning, I woke up and watched The Founder, based on a recommendation from a fellow entrepreneur. The Founder is the story of Ray Krock and the origins of the McDonald’s Corporation. Ray was ruthless in business and is quoted as saying, “Business isn’t dog eats dog, it’s more like rat eats rat.” Through a series of sneaky moves, Ray squeezed out Dick and Maurice McDonald, who were the original creators of both the name and the idea of the restaurant chain.
In watching the movie, Ray’s ruthlessness is clear, as seems to be the case with many people who have left a massive impact on the world (e.g. Steve Jobs, Elon Musk). While I’m not willing, nor interested, in trashing my reputation, or my character, in exchange for success and growth, the other side of Ray that shined through in the movie was his work ethic. And that idea of a strong work ethic is consistent with every successful person biography I’ve read.
“Basically it was a matter of me working longer and harder than anyone else.” – Ray Kroc
“Nothing in the world can take the good old place of persistence.” – Ray Kroc
Every executive, and business owner, I know that’s interested in growing their impact and influence struggles with the balance between working and playing. The two can seem like one in the same to these people. I’d clump myself somewhere within this group. I love working because I love the work we do at Swift Kick. Often times, it feels like play. I also recognize that my recovery time is much faster than most people. Some people need an hour lunch break, or a weekend to recharge, but I find a simple walk to the bathroom or quick run post work will recharge my brain and battery. I know this isn’t normal.
And then I come back to the question of when is enough enough? Ray’s ex-wife, Jane Dobbins Green, asked him that question to which he responded, I don’t know. Elizabeth (Eliza) Schuyler Hamilton asked Alexander Hamilton the same question to which he didn’t have an answer.
I know my 1-3 year goals, but beyond that, I don’t know yet. There is so much I want to do, and be, and live. Every time I try and do a vision board of my life, it’s filled with ideas as big as President of the United States to coaching a high school soccer team. It’s much easier for me to do 1-3 year plans than it is to try and map out my whole life, because there are so many variables in play.
If I look back at just my last five years, the variables that had the biggest impact on my life were things so far outside my scope of consciousness that there is no way I could’ve planned for them. So instead of vision boarding my life, I’m more focused on living each day through a clear sense of self, a compassion towards others, and a strong work ethic. Through this, I know I’ll live a great story because like so many successful people I know, I’m an overnight success ten years in the making.
“You’d be amazed at how fast you can get going with a tiny acceleration over a long time.” – Mark Watney (The Martian)