148: Dichotomy of Success- Friday Fundamentals

Hi, loyal Wealth and Freedom listeners. I have a question for you. What have you been learning lately? This could be from podcasts, books, networking, documentaries, or conversations with people who know something you don’t (note: that is everyone on this planet!)? One of my favorite forms of education is reading books. Alternatively, listening to both podcasts and audio books are also great sources I find valuable. Lately, I’ve read:

Success – it’s a common term, and with not so common definitions. Success is something we strive for, talk about, dream about, and even live for. But what we sometimes don’t know is what that success is for each of us. Some don’t have success nailed down to exact metrics, much less ideas. Rather, they might define success as being happy, health, wealthy, etc. Much less, some don’t even have a path to this undefined success. So I encourage you to take some time over the next week and really think about what success looks like to you. Envision your ideal life. Where will you live? Who will be in your life? What will you fill your time doing? What sense of fulfillment will you have? Ultimately, what are your goals in life? Once you have the answers to these, you can start to define success, and map a path to get there. Without doing this, you’ll be a pinball to life, going about with no intention and purpose.

Looking at success as a final destination isn’t necessarily the best approach. Because what is your life in the meantime? Unsuccessful? Well that hardly seems right.

After reading The Dichotomy of Leadership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin, I’ve realized there are dichotomies to just about everything, including success, and it’s important to understand and embrace these dichotomies. This may seem obvious on the surface, but let’s dig into what these are.

Dichotomy is a division or contrast between two things that are or are represented as being opposed or entirely different.

Success takes hard work. Yes – we’ve all heard this time and time again. However, for whatever reasons, it doesn’t always seem to sink in or we forget about this, and try to shortcut our path to success. We want the easiest path to success. The quickest way to retiring early and spending our days on the beach. But deep down, we know that success doesn’t work like that. Success takes hard work – dichotomy number one.

You might define success as living a comfortable life filled with luxuries, security, and plenty of wealth. But on the contrary the path to success can be quite uncomfortable, insecure, and certainly not luxurious. So you must embrace this discomfort and sacrifices that success will require from you.

You might define success and living an adventurous lifestyle with your friends and family, bringing them along for the ride. But your path to success may require you to outgrow some of those friends, and put aside they’re agendas, goals (or lack thereof), etc. You may have to set out on your pursuit to success alone.

The biggest dichotomy I see people face is one of scarcity now vs. abundance later. Some people define success as being able to retire early. They save and save and save, deferring income, experiences, and life for a later time. They hope that one day they will have success, but for now they continue to work and hope that one day comes. We’ve come to call this a 401(k) in modern day terminology! This is a dichotomy that a lot of people have out of balance. See, you don’t have to live a scarce life now, in order to live in abundant life later. In fact, if you live a scarce life now, you will probably never reach a life of abundance. Understand this dichotomy and find that balance that fits you best.

You can see that success is full of dichotomies like these. Live intentionally. Live with purpose while understanding these dichotomies.

If you don’t live a life with purpose and intention, then you are at the mercy of external circumstances. Ones that are certain to bounce you around and back and forth like a pinball in a machine. Like with everything, this too is a dichotomy. You can be too set in your ways and your approach to success, blazing though life with tunnel vision, only to find out that tunnel leads to a dead end.

Be flexible in your approach and strict on your target. Define success. Make a plan to get there. Enjoy the journey ahead.