Another way of asking that question is, “What drives you?” and “What motivates you?”
I’ve witnessed in my own life — and the lives of many, many others — that when we find what brings us true joy and fulfillment…it’s a splendid union of happiness and purpose. Over time, however, we lose sight of that big picture, of the thing that really does it for us and end up settling for the small things. The minor things.
So I have to ask, what satisfies you? Is it building an “empire”? Is it becoming more famous than Kim Kardashian (minus all the jokes)? Perhaps being in political or corporate power like Jerry Brown (current Governor of California) or Bob Iger (Disney’s CEO) gives us the sensation we desire? Is it because there’s something objectively beautiful about it. Or do we find satisfaction in those things because other people do, and if other people do, thus it follows that we’re important?
What about when we build up our knowledge because we work tirelessly? Maybe we feel like we can take on Watson (the computer) on Jeopardy? Or maybe we know everything about running a SaaS company like Jason Lemkin? Do we strive after that?
Or maybe it’s building connections in San Francisco, the hub of all things startup-y. Maybe we simply want to be well-known and have people look up to us. So we do whatever it takes to get us there. We sacrifice food, fun, family, sleep, hobbies — all, all for fulfilling that drive.
Be that as it may, that does not create justification. Simply because I’ve found what I thought was satisfaction there does not necessitate its truth and validity. Why? Well, going back to those same people I look up to in government, corporate, SaaS, or San Francisco, they all want more, too. What they have is never enough. If I became as rich as Warren Buffet, Rockefeller, or Bill Gates, it would simply not be enough.
So where did we go wrong? We found our true happiness and took our eyes off it. We found something else that gave us momentary fleeting pleasure, make the equivocation, and called it a day. So instead of me putting my iPhone in front of my face and neglecting family, friends, hobbies, passions, community, and sleep, let me remember what is important. Sometimes it starts with asking for forgiveness (like tonight) from others or yourself. Because sometimes we need to reset our lives and recall what is truly valuable to us.
I know I do.