A couple of years ago, I was able to have a brief conversation with a very successful writer/producer who had radically changed his life by changing from one career to his present one. While I was picking his brain, I realized that the one question I really wanted to ask him was actually impossible to ask: “Was it worth it?”
You can’t ask a very successful person if the risks he/she took were worth it because the obvious answer is “yes.” If you reap tremendous reward following a big leap of faith, the leap is always going to seem like the correct path. The opposite is also likely to be true. If I find a homeless person who decided to walk away from a stable life in order to take a big business risk, he might indicate that bravery had started to look more like stupidity in the process.
Are there middle of the road people who still recommend the leap? Time and time again I’ve heard that fortune favors the brave and that a person has to be true to their dreams. And that sounds great. It does. But I’m betting that in practice, those sayings aren’t always proven correct. Somewhere not only did fortune not favor the brave, but the leap actually resulted in someone being put into traction.
Perhaps once again it comes down to how a person measures success. Is it financial? To some degree, it has to be. Being a starving artist might sound romantic (and like you are being true to yourself), but in reality, it seems like a huge pain in the ass that leads to stress and damaged relationships. Is it fulfillment in a general sense? You might not be living in a Bel Air mansion, but you are doing something creatively fulfilling and the bills are paid enough for you to be able to sleep at night. That doesn’t sound so bad. Perhaps you hit a stage of peace where you are happy with the work you are doing, and you believe that the rest will come. Part of that sounds great to me, but for many, the only thing that comes later is foreclosure.
Logically, I know that I’m the only one who can truly answer the question, “Was it worth it?” But still, I wouldn’t mind hearing from the downtrodden. I want to hear from the people who worked hard to build something and found that fate (or fortune) kicked them in the teeth—and that it was still worth it. You people… you people intrigue me.
Such are my ponderings on a Friday.
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