Someone recently sent me an email asking about what he needs to sacrifice to succeed.
“Success,” he wrote, “is said to come with great sacrifice. I’m personally trying to figure out what I can sacrifice, while identifying and pursuing specific goals. Are there identifiable sacrifices that you attribute to your success? Or, more broadly, is there a generic schema for personal sacrifice that is consistent among leaders?”
Though it is true that life is always balanced and if you attain one thing it often comes at the sacrifice of another, the trick is not to focus on the thing you have to give up, but rather the thing you gain. In my case, money was a sacrifice for a while – but I was happy to give up the money to be my own boss. These days it’s social life – I’m not in New York much because I’m on the road a lot. Though some may perceive that I am sacrificing a lot by being away, the balance is, I get to meet so many amazing people that I otherwise would never have met. Not to mention, the work I do is so rewarding.
In both cases, I focused on where I was going without concern to what I would have to give up. Success comes not by trying to find something you’re willing to sacrifice, but by being inspired by the thing you’re pursuing. When you are in pursuit, sacrifice doesn’t feel like sacrifice…it feels like balance.
This is different from working long hours and sacrificing seeing your family or friends, for example, in hope of what will come as a result of the sacrifice. In this case, the hard work is in pursuit of a goal not yet realized. The work itself is not rewarding and the stress is high, but the rationalization is that it is all worth it for the promise (real or false) of what it will bring. What if the promise is never realized? Was it all worth it, then? This really is sacrifice. When you give up something for something that does not bring immediate joy.
There is no sacrifice when the pursuit, the journey, is as rewarding if not more rewarding than the end result. And when you can wake up in the morning and feel successful whether some end goal is realized or not…THAT is true success.