A few years ago the Wharton school hosted a speaker who was an entrepreneur and ran a number of businesses in Georgia and South Carolina. During his talk, he told the following story about the nature of success. Early in his career, he used a lawyer from a big-time law firm in Atlanta to act as an outside counsel. As the entrepreneur’s company grew, he realized he needed a lawyer to come and work for him full-time. So he went to his lawyer friend at the Atlanta law firm and asked if he could recommend someone to be his inside lawyer.
The lawyer told him he’d give it some thought and get back to him. So a couple of days later, the lawyer from Atlanta showed up at the entrepreneur’s office and said, “I found just the perfect person to be your inside lawyer!” The entrepreneur asked who it was, and the lawyer replied, “Me! I’m going to do it!” The entrepreneur was taken aback and said: “Well I can’t possibly pay you what you’re getting at the law firm…”
“Forget about it,” replied the lawyer, “I don’t care what you pay me, I’ll take whatever you give me, I just want to work with you.” The entrepreneur asked why he’d want to do that? He replied, “well after you asked that question, I went back home. I started to think about it and here is what I concluded. I worked my butt off in high school to get into a great college, and I worked my butt off in college to get into a great law school, and then I worked my butt off in law school to get into a great law firm, and now I’ve worked my butt off at this law firm to get to be a partner. And I suddenly realized that I’ve just been in this great big pie-eating contest and I keep winning. And every time I win, the prize is always the same, and the prize is always more pie. I’m tired of eating pie,” he said. “I want to join you, build your company, and have a little fun doing what I love to do.”
And so the entrepreneur hired him. For the first few days, this guy would show up, dressed in a Hawaiian shirt and ready to go. He was still the great lawyer he was before, but with a whole new attitude about how and why he was working.
This story teaches us an important lesson on the value of achievements. If you don’t know what you’re striving for, you just end up repeating the cycle, achieving whatever your parents, friends, or culture told you to aim for. Make sure you have a clear definition of what the word “Success” means to you, or else you’ll just end up eating more pie, and it’s not going to be very satisfying.
🍺 to another great week ahead!