How Much is Enough?

Lately I seem to be meeting and spending a fair bit of my time with what Bob Buford (From Success to Significance) would call corporate ‘Half-Timers’; those fortunate executives that have spun a good deal of success in their careers and are asking themselves an important question - How much is enough? How much success, status and money do I need to feel content, to be happy in my life?
Western business operates in a more is better culture and the path to career and monitory abundance is well lit by success gurus, executive coaches and self-help mantras. As a result, in 2010 Canada sported over 163,000 millionaire families with a YOY growth rate of 4.8%. The US boasted nearly 5 million millionaire families with a whopping 15% YOY growth rate. Not impressed yet? A million dollars isn’t what it used to be, eh? Well, last year a record 164 billionaires returned to Forbes' global wealth ranking, with 22 of those being Canadian. Not too shabby!

Westerners are in love with the idea of passion. We want to follow our passion, work at what we’re passionate about. We want to feel that fire; that excitement that comes from full engagement in what we love to do. So when what you love to do has rewarded you handsomely, provided all the creature comforts for you and your family - and maybe you don’t ‘love it’ quite like you used to…then what?

When money is no longer an issue and you’ve topped any career goal you had for yourself, interesting things happen. You begin to wonder… what’s next. Where do I go from here? What do I do now that I’m 40 something, 50ish or 60 plus and I don’t really have to work this hard any more, or maybe not at all?

This life-stage transition may just be the most challenging one of all. Some executives feel shackled by the infamous ‘golden handcuffs’ that tie them to their companies pension and benefit plans. It’s hard to leave when it’s so lucrative to stay. Reminds me of the little refrain:

“If you’re dancing with a gorilla, you can’t stop till the gorilla decides to stop.”

Several of my clients are looking at philanthropy with new eyes; they are becoming more focused on their legacy and less on conventional notions of success. They tell me that they want their lives to matter; they want to give back. Many are taking the bold step towards early retirement from their given professions to turn their attention towards work that pays less but rewards more deeply. Even some mid-career executives are realizing that their need to spend time with their families and maintain their health or experience the arts is stronger than the one to make a Forbes type list. Success exacts a price, and many aren’t willing to pay it any more.

What about you? How much is enough for you? If your life worked out perfectly what would the ‘priceless’ elements of that life be? Name your gorilla.

I coach executives in transition; I’m familiar with the territory and I’m here to help.

Here's The Truth

It happens to me all the time. I'm at an event or a company meeting talking about change when someone pulls me aside and says, "Ok, I know what you're saying, but between you and people ever really change?"

Yes Virginia, change is possible. But, only if you can't live without it. Changing yourself, and that's the only real change in the end, is hard work. Most people never do it. The masses arrive on the planet, look around, decide how to get by and spend the rest of their lives doing just that...getting by. I think it's why we're so enamored with celebrity and achievement. We see what someone else has accomplished and think...I could never do that.

So, here's the truth. Change is possible and transforming yourself, your company or your team is possible. But... and there's always a but.... you can't move forward in life while holding onto everything from the past. Something's gotta go. And sometimes, someone's gotta go.

Here are a few things you can start letting go of before the too much more time goes by:

1. Let go of old beliefs that hold you back:
About who you are or who you were supposed to be
About the way life was supposed to be
About needing to know how before you begin

2. Let go of people who hold you back:
People that are negative and critical of your efforts to change
People that want you to stay the same for their sake, not yours
People who have a world view that is antagonistic to yours (keep those people who see the world differently and challenge your thinking...they're helpful)

3. Let go of your fear of the unknown. The first step you take will make some of the unknown, known.

4. Let go of believing you have to do it all by yourself. We are all in this together, especially when we are changing.

Ready? Now, take your first step! In my experience, first steps are always accompanied by fear. At the beginning, the fear is huge. But every time you take a step, the fear lessens. With every milestone you reach, the fear diminishes and you get stronger.

You've made thousands of decisions that have brought you to where you are right now in your life. Are you satisfied? Or do you want more: something else, something different, or the next level? What do you really want? Forget about being practical and rational for a moment and let yourself say it. Let yourself dream it.

If you want your team, your company or your life to be different by say, 2015, you need to start making bold new decisions today. I coach people to take bold steps. I believe you can change! Call me.