Am I doing what it takes to succeed?

It’s 1:54am on a Saturday morning and I’m writing this because not because I’ve just arrived home from a boozy night out, but because I’ve had another restless night battling anxiety.

I’m currently on a break in the Blue Mountains, spending quality time with my girlfriend and family. It’s only the second day into the new year and I’m not scheduled to be back at work until the 11th, but I’ve awoken with my mind teeming with anxiety and guilt. It’s already the new year, and in my mind I should already be executing on my goals.

The question that continues to linger in the back of my mind, haunting me ever since I took the plunge into entrepreneurship:

‘Am I doing what it takes to succeed?’

I read Elon Musk’s biography a few days ago. I have read and studied many biographies, but I have never been more inspired than I was by this man. A real life Tony Stark; a living legend. A man that has changed the world, and will continue to change it. I won’t go on too much, but his journey is incredible and has absolutely changed the way I view the future, and my business in fact. It adds perspective to what impact people and organisations are actually making in this world.

However one aspect I did take away from his life was his suffering. His suffering through childhood, early teens and adulthood when he was giving 100% of his blood, sweat and tears into his game changing businesses. Whilst his Startups were thriving, I got the impression that his personal life rumbled.

Unfortunately this is not uncommon amongst entrepreneurs. There are countless stories of hard personal lives that ‘successful’ entrepreneurs lived. Stories of divorce, separations, money disputes, depression and even suicide. Paying the ultimate price for ‘success’.

One trait that these entrepreneurs all have in common is their unforgiving competitiveness and drive to execute on their vision. Where the odds are stacked up against them, they fight through and persevere where everyone else would give up. Their work ethic and obsession is almost sacrificial in nature. Generally, this comes at a personal cost, because if you’re building something THAT big, something has to give, right?

I have a lot I want to achieve personally, a lot of which has nothing to do with my business. Do more travel, fulfill my ever growing bucket list, get married, have children, live a more altruistic life etc. Life is short, and we are constantly reminded of this.

I am passionate about helping my clients build their businesses, and have 100% commitment to continue to build a thriving organisation where every one of my stakeholders benefit. I am building my business so I can have the flexibility and freedom to improve the life of my family and the world.

But at the same time I want a successful personal life — balancing my business, family, relationships and myself is a constant battle. I check in with these ‘four pillars’ a monthly basis to ensure I’m keeping all the plates spinning and avoiding any crashing to the ground. They’re all good, but I must admit some spin faster than others…

My view is that if one becomes so obsessed and absorbed with their business to the extent that their relationships and personal life crumbles around them, then what’s the point?

I view success as happiness. Happiness to me is driven by excitement. Excitement to try new things, excitement to push myself out of my comfort zone, excitement to leave a mark on the world.

But happiness is also a frame of mind.

As a student of Buddhism, I follow the following philosophy to live a present life:

“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, not to worry about the future, not to anticipate the future, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.”

Being content with a $500k business should make one happy, but nevertheless I want to grow that into something much, much bigger. If I’m happy with the present, what drive is there to make it bigger? A ‘present mentality’ may result in a ‘present business’ — which probably means you’re not growing or innovating — which leads to inevitable failure — when your future looking competition put you out of business.

So on the flip side, I need to ensure I’m not being complacent either. And that’s where the self-doubt and questioning always creeps in: “Am I doing what it takes to succeed?”

It does pose a serious question for aspiring entrepreneurs out there. The ones that actually have the guts and desire go down this difficult path. Can you successfully live in the present whilst building and writing the future?

I think it ultimately comes down to one question:

How do you define success?