Editor's Note | October 2010 | Balancing Getting With Becoming
Work harder on yourself than you do on your job
There were many things I learned while getting my MBA, but some of the most memorable morsels came outside the classroom. I remember having lunch with a respected mentor who was giving me career advice and I'll never forget his point. He said, "John, if you want to be wealthy and happy, learn one lesson: Work harder on yourself than you do on your job."
That's been said many times, in so many ways, (i.e., no success can compensate for failure in the home), but here I am ten years later swimming in the deep waters of my career and it finally sinks in. Sometimes when I'm fixated on making these magazines and websites pertinent, important, and personal, I hear the echo of those words - 'work harder on yourself than your job'.
When I was a kid there was an oft-run family commercial where the kid wanted his dad to go camping, but he was too busy at work, and then the kid finally cons his dad into coming to look at something he had done, and the dad gets trapped in the back of a camper as the mom and kids drove off with him to go have family time. I thought how silly it was, but here I am trying really hard not to be the guy who needs to be conned into developing the things in my life that really matter.
Self improvement is quite a challenging assignment because there are so many valid excuses to put it off, particularly when we are knee-deep in trying to serve others. I mean, charity is a noble enough reason to skip self-service and introspection, right? However we answer that for ourselves, the juggling of our priorities lasts a lifetime. And sometimes we drop a few balls.
This is fast becoming my personal mantra - 'What you become is far more important than what you get'. The important question to ask of ourselves as we go about our daily routine is not, "What am I getting?" Instead, we should ask, "What am I becoming?" Getting and becoming are like magnets: What you become directly attracts what you get. Think of it this way: Most of what you have today you have attracted by becoming the person you are today.
It's also true that income rarely exceeds personal development. Sometimes income takes a lucky jump, but unless you learn to handle the responsibilities that come with it, it will usually shrink back to the amount you can handle - think lottery winners. If someone hands you a million dollars, you'd better hurry up and become a millionaire. A very rich man once said, "If you took all the money in the world and divided it equally among everybody, it would soon be back in the same pockets it was before."
It is hard to keep that which has not been obtained through personal development. I think that's also true with our personal relationships. If you want to 'get'a great family, you've got to become a great family member. If you want to 'get' great friends, if you want to 'get' a great job, etc. So here's the great axiom of life:
To have more than you've got, become more than you are.
This is where you should focus most of your attention. Otherwise, you just might have to contend with the axiom of not changing, which is:
Unless you change how you are, you'll always have what you've got.
Have a great month becoming healthier in all aspects of your life.