The three S’s are not Nirvana
Your parents, 3rd grade teacher, college professor and Giant Corporation, Inc. all have you chasing the wrong dream. It’s no wonder most people aren’t excited about where they’re going. My mother thought I was nuts when, after six years, I left the army 29 years ago.
From her perspective, I had it all – a nice brick home looking out over Chesapeake Bay, provided free by the government. A great job where I rarely worked four hours (not normal for the Army). A just okay, but very stable paycheck. Very inexpensive on-base stores, free medical, and an incredibly generous retirement package that I could take as early as 41 years old.
Oh, and a highly unusual guaranteed permanent assignment at a bucolic old fort surrounded by a moat, in beautiful Virginia. I could have stayed there for 20 years and retire. I was set for life.
My mother grew up in the great depression and lived through World War II, hoarding scraps of aluminum foil to turn back in to make airplanes with. As a result, she was motivated by three very basic things:
1) SAFETY – live “sterile” – in the suburbs away from “trouble”.
2) SECURITY – get a wad of cash in the bank and retire off the interest.
3) STABILITY – know what every day holds – they should all look the same.
But where do safety, security and stability show up on Maslowe’s hierarchy, or any other measure of meaning? At or near the bottom. The three things we’ve been taught to pursue more than anything else are barely more than survival techniques.
Safety, security and stability are basics, not Nirvana. And in my experience, pursuing them as an end in themselves will keep us from doing anything significant with our lives. We were taught to move from survival to success, and success was defined as pacifying these three survival needs. Get a big house, a big bank account and ensure every day looks the same, and you have arrived.
Problem: Making money is not an empowering vision. And either is the goal of making every day look the same. We’re not made to live that way. We need to move from SURVIVAL, right through the industrial age definition of SUCCESS, to SIGNIFICANCE.
Business owners who reach for something bigger than making money are likely to make a lot more of it. Why are you in business? What do you want out of your business? Do you have Lifetime Goals driving you forward?
On the back of my first book , the cover editor put – “Use your business to build your Ideal Lifestyle.” It’s about significance.
My mother was well-intentioned, but I wanted more out of life than a safe, sterile existence that looked the same every day. Safety, security and stability aren’t enough. We are all made to be and do something significant. And you won’t get there by living safe and secure, and doing the same thing every day.
Carpe diem – seize the day. Go to the next level. Use your business to build your Ideal Lifestyle, not just to survive.