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People want to know how to become self-employed. They want the equation for freedom. They ask me for advice. I don’t believe I can help them. Somewhere in the equation of getting the life you want you have to work hard and having coffee with me isn’t going to help you get any closer to getting that hard work done.
We romanticize other people’s lives`. We think most people’s lives are better than ours. We have a universal desire for anything other people have.
A friend and I were playing golf together, about six years ago before I had kids, when I could justify spending time on a golf course. He lives in an expensive house on a golf course. The first time I saw it I was jealous. The island in the middle of the kitchen was larger than my entire kitchen. It was marble of course. You could not reach the middle if someone had placed something there for you to retrieve. I’m over six feet tall and every door made me feel like an oompa loompa. The wood trim was everywhere. It was dark, thick and wide. The carpet was lush and even with my shoes on I could feel how soft it was.
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We weren’t playing on the golf course his house was on. In fact, the golf course we were playing on wasn’t as nice as the one he lived on. The golf course were were playing on was newer but not as nice. Maybe that’s why he said what he said next. “Hey, look at that house.”
I looked to my right, he was driving and I so I could fully admire the log cabin style mansion between the fairway and one of the private roads that snaked through the neighborhood injected into the golf course. It was a beautiful home. He wanted it.
“Man, I wish I lived there. We looked at that house while it was being built. It’s awesome.” He said. The whole time he’s staring at the house with wide eyes. They were expectant, longing eyes. I looked at him after I turned my eyes quickly and then my head. I’m grateful I didn’t say was I thinking at the time.
Bro, you live on a golf course, just like that guy. You live in a gorgeous house, just like that guy. I didn’t challenge his dreaming. Instead I just said, “Yeah, that’s a sweet house.”
That moment was a profound gift. I remember it every time someone asks me how to get something I have that they want. I tell them that story and then remind them, “No matter how much you have you’ll always want something else. Sometimes something else isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.” My friend was not content in his home, not compared to that house. I wasn’t content in my house compared to his house. The cycle is repeated every day. I see a car I want. I see a gadget I “need”.
The greatest tool to achieve wealth is not income, it’s contentment. There are people who make 100 times what you make and they are not content. You are wealthier than them because you are more content than they are. That day I realized I was wealthier than my friend. I was living in an apartment with my wife at the time and we were very happy there. We were content. We hadn’t settled for less, we were happy with our measure of abundance.
We finished our round of golf and we’re not really friends anymore. We just don’t run in the same circles. He’s a nice guy but I don’t think going over to his house was good for me. I liked his carpet too much.
When people ask me for advice on becoming self-employed or becoming a writer or how to get to know people of influence my answer is the same. Stop spending energy on wanting what other people and spend that energy making yourself better. Read books then take risks. Spend time around people who encourage you to live a life of bravery instead of safety. Live amongst unsatisfied people who want a better world for themselves and are willing to do the work to get it, without shortcuts.
Every shortcut I’ve tried to take failed. They’ve been given to me then ripped away. My big plans failed. My opportunity evaporated. Shortcuts are like steroid users. People who take steroids are really the weakest because they weren’t willing to put in the hard work others were willing to put in.