Being unreasonable can set yourself up for failure, quite frankly a very hard fall. I’ll take the extreme example of aspiring to be a billionaire technology tycoon:
- In 2007, Forbes counts 946 billionaires in a world . Anyone who remotely thinks a billion dollar net worth is anywhere near trivial is delusional.
- Low expectations are the secret to happiness. So is a sense of security. These are two traits that 60 minutes found in Denmark, the happiest place on earth. But they are quick to point out that is not equivalent to a lack of ambition.
- As David writes on the 37Signals blog, the next is never the same as its predecessor – that’s why it’s NEXT!
But presumably- if you’re even thinking about billions or building the next Google, you derive a sense of happiness for accomplishment, making a difference and success. So what’s with the aspiration to lofty status symbols of a billion dollars or the “next Google” then?
Ambition is commendable. Max Levchin is well known around the Valley for saying he would not be happy with an exit for Slide below $1.65 billion. Max’s lifestyle does not remind you of a greedy capitalist, rather a fierce competitor.
When I think of aspiring actors, I always believe that you should only follow that vocation if you would still do it if you didn’t get paid for it. In the duality of Hollywood, this attitude always pumps out the most inspired work.
Oprah has said that she is not a goal setter. She just gets up every day and does what she does. I’m a fan of her attitude.
Is it any surprise that some of the unhappiest people in the world are also the richest?
Rome was not built in a day. But if you’re following your passions day in, day out and one day a billion dollar opportunity comes within your sights, certainly you should go for it. When anyone says they aspire and will work endlessly towards greatness and love every minute of it, but will not be unhappy without hitting arbitrary goalposts are on the right track to happiness and greatness in my mind.