Yesterday I Met a Rich, Self-Made Hostage. Are You Becoming One?

I was stunned when I heard it: “It’s our 30th anniversary, and I’m finally planning a full two weeks off work to celebrate.” This proud declaration from a man who owns a $30 million company is just sad. This is a man who lives in abject poverty, with no freedom and no clue he’s been doing it wrong for 30 years.

I see it all the time. Business owners whose personal lives are train wrecks, with no time to invest in their kids, spouse, or non-existent hobbies, and no time to even think about creating meaning in their own lives. They are hostages to their businesses with no end in sight for their incarceration.

People think this guy is a great business owner because he works all the time and has a lot of toys he doesn’t have time to use. I think he lives in abject poverty.

Riches vs. Wealth

Riches is just money. Wealth is freedom. Freedom is the ability to choose what to do with my time. Time is more valuable than money. It usually takes money to buy time, but unless the specific goal is to buy time, money can make us hostages.

Money does not bring freedom. Time brings freedom. This man has millions and has no freedom. He readily admits that if he is gone from his business for a few days things begin to go awry. He has built a $30 million business that depends on him personally being there every day! He is not a business owner; his business owns him. He lives in abject “time poverty”.

Intending to receive time, not just money

You get what you intend, not what you hope for. You can just hear this man starting his business. He intended to do two things:

  1. “I’m going to work really hard” and
  2. “I’m going to make me some money.”

He got exactly what he intended – hard work and some money. And he is trapped by the hard work. He did not go into business intending to get both time and money from his business, just money. He hoped that getting money would give him time and create freedom, but we don’t get what we hope (wish) for; we get what we intend to get.

A Day a Week, a Week a Month, a Month a Year

I built five businesses like he did and was trapped as a hostage every time. With Crankset Group I intended to do something different – I decided this next business was going to give me both money and time, and everything I did from the beginning was driven by forcing my business to produce both.

As a result, I now have every Monday and every Friday off, the last week of every month off, and a month in the summer – it adds up to 73% of the work week.

I use only a few weeks for vacation, and choose (freedom) to invest the rest helping others build businesses around the world, including for-profit businesses to solve poverty in central Africa.

Vacation? What Vacation?

A recent American Express OPEN survey found 66% of business owners haven’t taken time off in several years. And of those few who do take vacation, 68% of them check in daily to try to run things from their beach chair (we don’t call in at all during our month off).

It’s important to get away from your business. The famous Framingham Heart Study found those who took regular vacation are 32% less likely to die from heart disease and 20% less likely to die from anything else. Besides  being healthier, time away from the day to day grind will help you see the big picture and make you a better leader. And you’ll be more productive when you return.

The objective of your business should be to build your Ideal Lifestyle. If you’re proud that you finally get two weeks off, you need to reassess how you are running your business and your life, and refocus on wealth (time/freedom), not just riches (money).

Is this just for special people? No. I built five businesses and never got off the treadmill. The sixth time I simply decided/intended to do it differently, and – what a surprise – it turned out different.

You get what you intend, not what you hope for.

What are you intending to do with your business and your life?

Article as seen on