So today I turn another year older, although I don’t think about it as much as I did when I turned 40, it is undeniable that I am beginning to recognize that I’m not as indestructible as I thought I was years ago. Working long hours and getting by on less sleep, hard workouts in the gym, or not being cognizant of a reasonable diet, all have obvious effects on me these days. The frailty of the human body as it ages certainly becomes more apparent once you get over 40, and even more obvious as you close in on 50.
To be fair, I have been hard on my body over the years. I did physical labor early on in my work life. Then I spent some time in the military, later I was a Kickboxer and even did some competitive powerlifting. Most of these activities were not kind to me, or at least the way I approached them wasn’t kind to my body. As a competitive athlete, there were times I did things that I knew, or at least was told, “You can do this today and it will give you an edge, but later, you will likely regret it.” As you would imagine at the ripe age of 20-something, I didn’t bat an eye at the potential of dealing with repercussions later in life for the advantage provided today. Whether it was a training regimen, my diet, or trying to do too much and not allowing my body to recuperate, I pushed my body to its limits, regularly.
As I push closer to the age of 50, I am clearly reminded of those less than ideal decisions made back in my twenties with my physical endeavors. So, as I sat at my computer today reflecting on the last 4 years, realizing the growth and development I have experienced in my journey of becoming a published author, speaker, coach and consultant, it was interesting to recognize similar less than ideal choices I made when I was younger pertaining to taking the short-term benefit versus the long-term payoff. Choices that lead me down a path of chasing the almighty dollar, or that next promotion, without much thought as to what I really wanted to do, or where those decisions might lead me later in my career.
Now don’t get me wrong, I have had a very successful career and I have achieved results most people can only hope for over 20 years. I have made exceptional money, worked with thousands of people, managed hundreds at a time, and helped 3 companies grow to over $100 Million in revenues. The payoffs have been exceptional, BUT, in the end, my time invested, the Blood, Sweat, and Tears, invested with those companies was done almost unconsciously. I didn’t choose to do that, I felt compelled to do it, I felt obligated to grow my employer’s company, besides that’s what they were paying me to do.
I busted my Ass, working long hard hours, slighting time with my family and friends, traveling for as much as 40 plus weeks in some years. Straining my relationship with my wife, working 6 or 7 days per week for years, missing out on my kid’s events, forgoing my own health and mismanaging stress. I managed difficult employee issues, delivered bad news, introduced changes in the organization, and sacrificed things I wanted for myself personally. I did it all willingly for the ideal inevitable payoff somewhere down the road. Some share of the organization, a payday when the company sold, a better title that would uplevel my career, certainly for far better compensation than what most people ever earn in their careers.
In the end, I think to myself, “was it worth it?” Well, just like I tell the doctors today, when they ask, “Was it worth it?” “Hell Yeah it was!” I accomplished and experienced things that less than 1% of the people in the world will ever experience. I lived life on my terms and went after goals most people will only ever sit around and dream about. I chased my dreams, No, I ran them down like a predator chases down their prey, then I tackled them and made them my accomplishment. And for the few that I didn’t reach the pinnacle of achievement, I can live with that, because I gave it everything that I had and I started and stopped on my terms. That was something I could live with.
Now, do I question those decisions from time to time, absolutely. Especially since my endeavors as a kickboxer, despite leading to several titles, never landed me with my World Title. Or that my powerlifting efforts never got a championship or turned into a body building championship, which is what I really wanted to do. There certainly is doubt particularly when you evaluate what you did to achieve what you wanted, the trade-offs you accepted, the sacrifices you made, the disappointments and setbacks. The feelings of being slighted by those you trusted in those endeavors, or feeling like the payoff was not commensurate with what you felt you contributed. These thoughts all weigh on you as you reflect, BUT the growth that you recognized and things you learned through all those trials and tribulations, made you the person you are today, and THAT was worth it.
You can’t go through life second guessing setbacks and disappointments as they will eat you up. Recognize what you learned, own your mistakes, take time to reflect on what you could have done better, and in the end, understand how you will do it better next time. This is the recipe for success in life! As it has been said many times, “In Life you fail your way forward”. Just keep working hard and don’t ever quit! Oh Yeah, and take time to recognize your successes and be grateful for what you do have and have achieved. This keeps the fuel burning deep inside and gives you the energy to get up the next day and move forward again!
Lastly, I will close with this. There will be many people in your life who question or challenge you for living your life “All-Out”, giving it everything you have all the time. Most conventional wisdom will tell you not to push too hard, save something for later, don’t push so hard that you hurt yourself. Well, to that I say, “Bull Crap! Leave it all out on the field and leave nothing to chance!” In the end, people won’t ever hand you anything. You’ll have to fight, scratch, and claw for everything you get in life and even when someone does give you what THEY think YOU are worth, trust me, you won’t agree with their assessment! So, don’t allow yourself to let others determine your worth, don’t ever settle for the status quo, and NEVER be satisfied with average, because you are worth so much more. Hold out and work your ass off for all the best rewards it life, I assure you it will be worth it!