What’s Your Happily Ever After?
Once upon a time I met an incredibly successful entrepreneur named Harry. His clients loved him, his employees loved him, his daughters were his protégés poised to take over his business, cash-flow was greater each year with infinite opportunity to grow. Forbes magazine named him the most brilliant entrepreneur of his generation. He owned properties on the Riviera, travelled the globe in his private jet and worked incredibly hard with true inspiration, passion and pride in the legacy he was creating for his loving family.
Once upon a time I met a very lonely, broken man named Larry. Larry had waged a long fight with cancer and defied the doctor’s prognosis. He miraculously made a complete physical recovery. But Larry wasn’t grateful to have survived—he was 80 years old, recently divorced and his family did not call or visit. He did not even know his own grandchildren.
Can I tell you a secret?
Harry and Larry are the same person.
Larry’s wife Janet loved him and appreciated the vacations and security he provided the children for the first decade of their marriage, but after years of neglect drifted into loneliness that she filled with new friends, alcohol and torrid affairs. Larry’s daughters grew up admiring Larry, their mentor and father, but after 20 years Larry still hadn’t given up control of his business, passed on the reins or stepped aside to let his children take over. The daughters realized their father would never recognize that it was his time to pass on his throne, and so they moved on in life. They looked for new opportunities and started their own families and life-stories. Their children never really knew their grandfather who routinely missed family Christmas and birthdays to close the “next big deal.”
I’ve met many successful Harrys on the way up, and far too many Larrys after the great fall. Larry had the best of intentions—he just never had the best priorities or sense of timing. It’s easy to be ‘trapped’ into being a Larry, saying things like “people rely on me,” “this is what I do,” and “I wouldn’t know what to do if I retired.” These are all selfish statements of well-meaning entrepreneurs who lack balance.
A life of balance has two main components:
- Be Clear About Your Purpose. Ask yourself: what’s your happy ending? Why do you get up in the morning? Be clear about your entrepreneurial purpose: Is your purpose as an entrepreneur to create a legacy? Secure financial freedom for you and your family? Build wealth? Enable you the time to pursue loving relationships and lasting memories? All of the above? The key to getting your happy ending is knowing how to meet this purpose, and then knowing how to move on or stop once you’ve met it.
- Create Your Own Formula: There is a time when family are ready to take over. If that isn’t an option, there is a time to hire others to do the heavy lifting, or sell some or all of your company. You can still do the things you love as Chair of the Board, or you can be an angel investor and mentor in other firms. There are many formulas that deliver inspiration and passionate pursuits while balancing time to invest in family and relationship harmony.
Now let’s see how this might look for you after a life of balance…
Once upon a time I met a man named Terry. Terry happily announced at his morning coffee group that he and his wife were flying out to attend his granddaughter’s upcoming dance recital, and proudly showed off a Forbes magazine article about how his two daughters were successfully carrying on his legacy in the business world. He beamed as he showed endless pictures and told stories of the latest “Grandpa day retreats.” They chatted about their upcoming golf getaway and his plans to fly the whole family to the Great Barrier Reef for an unforgettable family Christmas. Terry was in great health, had lots of energy, and was clearly a happy man.
Life is an adventure to be cherished and lived in balance. What is your happily ever after.
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