Totally tickled that Craig Gonzales has returned to Bliss Habits for the Blogversary-apolooza! Last time Craig was with us he was musing on why life couldn’t be lived on a tequila-fueled sex-bender. Today he is back to talk about the sacrifices that lead us to success. He asks, what are you willing to do?
Lars has a problem: His job is boring. He is not getting promoted. His friends are happily married and have kids. His boss tells him to jump, and Lars says, “How high?”
The problem is that Lars has been doing this for over 25 years. To some, he has lived a charmed life: six years in Germany, five in Switzerland; seven years in Uganda, two in Brazil; 4 years in Beijing, and now 1 year in Bangkok. He has seen and done it all. But he is not happy. Those work-abroad adventures? He has been doing the exact same job for years. Sure, he gets promoted. Sure, he gets the perks. But he is not happy.
Perks? Okay, so many of us, myself included, would be very happy to trade places. Lars is Vice President of Finance for his company. Lars gets first class plane tickets, all-expense accommodation, cars, drivers, and nice watches. But still, Lars is not happy.
Because what he has been spending his time on is boring. Because his desires are always second to the companies desires. Because “veep” is as high as he can go. Because he is 54 and just realizing he hasn’t really lived life.
Yet he took the steps to change it.
Lars enrolled in a management-training program at an elite Swiss university in order to fix his existential issues. He will take three five-week trips from Bangkok to Switzerland this year. During his first trip, he realized that he loved school, studying, and the possibilities for growth.
So Lars started applying for an Executive MBA Program. An executive MBA gives him the ability to move up, move over, or move out of his current company. And that’s how we met. See, I help these wanderers master the seemingly innocuous yet incredibly different requirements these MBA programs have.
Lars was happily living in Beijing. He had a position he loved, he had great friends, and he had a killer lifestyle. But when he mentioned his EMBA dreams, the powers that be transferred him to Bangkok.
Now, don’t get me wrong, Bangkok is pretty much the coolest city in the world (according to me). But I chose to move here. Most people living here chose to live here. Lars did not. And it gets worse.
His job here sucks. SUCKS BAD! He was actually demoted. Now, that makes sense. If he is doing an MBA program, he will not be 100%. He will have to work and study at the same time. So a reduction of responsibilities just makes sense.
But it’s been hell. He is unhappy. He is not really learning his fractions. And he likes to drop f-bombs when we talk about his coworkers.
He was miserable up until two weeks ago. Two weeks ago we were trying to understand ratios when we had a very long heart-to-heart. Lars knows what he wants. He can see it. But in order to get it, he had to move to a place and work with some people that are pretty much miserable.
But it’s temporary. Not temporary as in, “I’ll get out, eventually.” But really temporary, as in, “I’ll get out when I finish my EMBA.”
And that’s what we spend our time talking about. Small sacrifices. We all make them. Daily, probably. I know I just made a small sacrifice: I chose coffee and steak salad instead of pizza, cake, and coke. Why? Because I live in Thailand and spend 20% of my free time on the beach. The body is worth the sacrifice. It just is.
And for Lars, the outcome of his education, however late it is, will be worth the shitty experience he is having right now.
But it is only okay because he knows how terrible it is. He now refuses to take no for an answer. He realized selfish people move ahead. But sometimes, it’s important to take our time as long as we are always moving towards our goal.
Just last week I helped him make a video CV for his MBA program. He learned how to edit videos on iMovie. Imagine teaching an old-timer how to do digital video editing. He loved it. And that’s the point, right? He might hate his current job, but he is finding joy in the journey from point A to point B. And he accepts a small sacrifice for a very large reward.
What is your goal? What do you really, really, deeply want? You can’t just get it, you need to work for it. What are you willing to do to get what you want?
A difference between those who are successful and those who are not is a willingness to do what others refuse to do.
What are you willing to do for your happiness?
*note: This is a real story, but I changed my students name for privacy.
Craig is an American entrepreneur running a successful education company. He writes about business development and fun and provides small-level consulting for small businesses. You can find him on twitter @Craiggonzales.
Thank you so much for joining the festivities Craig. You pose an excellent question!
At different times in my life I have been more willing to make greater sacrifices. I think Lars is very brave. Luckily I am very happy so nothing quite so drastic is needed in my life.
So, What are you willing to do for your happiness?