Dreams, seeded with a dose of reality begrudgingly gained through life’s experiences, eventually lead to the establishment of goals that drove this man’s life throughout the years. Now, a few months away from my 75th birthday, I can step back and evaluate what I’ve accomplished and what is yet to be achieved.
In childhood the focus was to have fun. No one said this was my purpose, but early on I discovered that doing the things boys do was most enjoyable. These things almost always involved other kids such as playing ball, roughhousing and just hanging out together. These activities, even board games and cards, were all stimulating and usually had one common goal: to win.
As an only child I did things on my own like read, listen to the radio adventure series or later watch TV, practice various sports and, of course, do homework. But being part of a group and succeeding within that community and competing with other communities is what I liked best. The team was my family and my support group, yet I wanted to be the star that shined above all others and receive the attention that goes with it.
This self centered, selfish attitude, which I preferred to call ambition, was with me during the growing years to college and beyond. When I first got into the business world, my eye was not on my peers but on the presidency of the firm. Being number one was not just a goal, it became an obsession. I vowed to do whatever it took to reach the top.
Such a strong desire for money, power and recognition was profitable for the companies I worked for and the clients I served; but it did little for my relationships, both in and outside of business. For a guy who once thrived on belonging to a community and being part of a team this misplaced commitment left me rather lonely.
One would think that these empty feeling lead to a change of spirit. However, the result was to push harder and win no matter what the cost. I finally received a degree of success, but it wasn’t enough because chasing after more always meant I wanted more. After many years this realization finally sunk in, it caused me to rethink my life and the self-imposed goals I placed on myself, which were actually restrictions.
Admittedly, I wasn’t a particularly good husband, father or friend for my first 50 years or so but have gotten better in all these areas, I believe. The few business dealings I have now are meaningful, because I try to do what’s right and deliver real value to the other person or company. And, I get real joy from just being part of whatever community I am in and make whatever contributions I can without expectations.
When it’s all said and done, today I’m pretty much having the fun like I did as a kid. Now, however, there are no preconceptions of needing to be the best. I am more than satisfied to be together with others and participate in life’s activities. The big shift is with my goals. I no longer strive to do great things; I just want to do good things.