…if you spend it trying to impress everybody. One law that will never be proven untrue is ‘No matter how great you think you are doing, there is somebody doing better.’ If you’re making a million a year, there’s somebody making a million a year and giving half to charity. On the flip-side, two-thirds of humanity are wondering how they can feed their children and not lose another family member to cholera.
Isaac Newton said,
“If I have seen further, it is only by standing on the shoulders of giants.”
If you’re sporting a rock-star title at your work, it’s because somebody had the foresight and initiative to build the company you’re working for now. If you’re travelling around the country or even the world, wine and cheesing on the company’s expense card, it’s because somebody had the foresight and initiative to build the company that’s paying your bills. If you are the person who built the company, well, congratulations. You’ve risked time, resources and probably the goodwill of many around you when you started. Just don’t forget where you started from.
You have success because of your environment. You absolutely cannot deny this. Sure, you worked your ass off but you have an environment to thrive in. Let’s say you’re a rock-star marketing guy working in Toronto, crafting jingles that would impress Elvis. You’re flying up the ranks, and cashing cheques along the way. You dump your ’87 Pony and buy yourself a Hummer. You move out of your parent’s basement and into a new-subdivision replete with shrubbery and wall mounted TVs. You’re the king, man. Your boss thinks your future is bright and your business card proves it.
Now let’s say you lived in Guatemala. You’re picking through the city-dump, rounding up enough plastic bottles that would impress no-one. There are no ranks to fly up. There’s just the two dollars you hope to sell your stash for at the recycling plant. You hold onto anything of remote value because you’re not sure when you’ll have to sell it to feed your kid. Your parents didn’t have a basement. In fact, they’re probably living with you right now if they haven’t already died of dysentery. You’re one of billions man. Your future looks exactly the same as every other day you’ve known and you have the TB in your lungs to prove it.
Are you more capable than the guy in Guatemala?
If you’re going to compare yourself with your neighbour, other family members and old high school chums, why don’t you compare yourself with the guy in Guatemala?
If you were born in a western democracy, you’ve already won the cosmic lottery.
Humility is reminding yourself that no matter what achievements you’ve accomplished, you never forget the context you’ve accomplished them in. I enjoy the success I have because I live in Canada. I am certain I would not have accomplished the same if I were born in a less fortunate country.
Do well for yourself. Do it so you can say you did it. Do it so you can make a good and comfortable life for yourself. But don’t do it because you think someone will be impressed. There’s far too much in the universe to be impressed with. A guy who’s just made a lot of money is not one of them.
Have fun with life. The worms won’t give a ____ what brand of suit you’re buried in.