If you read my previous post on how I made a million dollars before the age of 27, you will know that it took me a series of intelligent financial moves, business decisions, and a lot of hard work. It was a combination of businesses, and investments that made me financially free, not so much one business that sold for a large amount of money as you read in the news every other day.
As the founder of many businesses including a consulting business that grew from $0- $3 million in revenue in less than 4 years in a very saturated field and a luxury lifestyle concierge business that caters to today’s elite at reasonable costs, many would say that I am a serial entrepreneur in the offline world. I, however, feel very different about my life and certainly feel that despite the money I have made and the businesses I created, I am still far from considering myself a success. Many relate being successful to making money, while many others associate it with family values and freedom of time. It is true that all the above constitute a piece of being successful but they certainly are not what being successful is about in my opinion.
In my younger years I chased money and like many other people, and tried to understand how to monetize just about anything I touched or got involved in. From consulting to referring business, even in the possessions I owned, I always looked for ways to make a few bucks until I actually did make money. At that point I only realized that I still hadn’t reached the level of fulfillment I thought I would achieve by breaking free financially. I simply wasn’t satisfied with the million dollars invested in my cars and nice homes that I worked so hard to buy. Instead I felt like I still was missing something. I felt like I hardly had reached my full potential and still felt like the road to success had not yet reached its end.
I have always identified success differently from most as I never related success to how much money someone made or the freedom they attained but rather their ability to overcome their fears and never allow themselves to be the barrier to their full potential. I have always felt that it is okay for someone to be afraid but its not okay for someone to keep themselves from growing and experiencing life because of their fears. I always felt that those who have fears but yet learn to overcome them and lock them up in a box certainly are much more successful than those who are constrained by their fears. The reason why many worship those that made large amounts of money may seem like it is for their possessions, but it is ultimately because we identify in that person the fact that they overcame their fears of taking risk and did what others are not capable of achieving and therefore associate success with money, when in reality the appreciation for the risk is what we are celebrating indirectly. This is why I believe we don’t respect those who never made their own money even if they have lots of money and enjoy the same lifestyle as those others who have made their money through sweat and tears, it only reminds us that we too can do the same thing.
Since I have always lived within this philosophy, then I certainly see myself as successful in general in life but hardly as an entrepreneur. Even though I have broken the seven figure barrier and created two businesses doing well, I certainly am far from being what I define to be a truly successful entrepreneur like I discussed in the Third Circle Theory.
When I grew up, I had the privilege of having some of the best mentors one could ever ask for, and as I describe in the Third Circle Theory, the best mentors are the ones who care, not the ones who want to help you but rather those that take a second to understand you rather than your business or goals. At the time I met and interacted with my first mentor, I didn’t really understand why someone would help someone else when there is nothing in it for them and certainly didn’t understand why someone would put valuable time to help grow someone else only to see them go their own way eventually and reap no benefit from their success.
I didn’t understand until a few years ago that the way we truly are successful is not through how much money we make or the fears we overcome, but rather the role we play in the world we live in as a result of being that person who has achieved more than others. While it is very easy for someone to make money and enjoy their life and provide for their family, it is equally very easy for a mentor to turn someone asking for help away, it is that which differentiates those successful entrepreneurs from those who simply know how to make money or own a business that makes money.
Entrepreneurship is about innovation, and innovation is not about you but rather about other people whose lives are innovated by your thinking. It is your ability to think of something bigger than yourself but also your ability to work harder than others not to make money but rather to change the way others think, act, and behave that makes entrepreneurs visionaries rather than business man. Anyone can start a computer company and sell computers, but not everyone can change the way we compute. It takes looking past money, past your fears, past your well-being to achieve what others cannot and reach the third circle, which defines your existence within your life and the lives of those around you.
Think about legacy, what is it really?
Is legacy leaving a business empire behind so that others can eventually ruin it in the pursuit of more money? How about having children as your legacy, only to find out that their viewpoints and thoughts of the world differ from yours and as a result will not share your aspirations past your existence. If legacy is about being remembered in today’s society for our accomplishments or our contributions, then our contributions have to mean more than money, they have to hold a deep impact on the way others live, think, or advance their lives. It must be about others, because it is ultimately others who validate your existence in society by carrying your stories. It is because of perfect strangers that today’s best known visionaries live on. People like Steve Jobs, Walt Disney, Martin Luther King Jr., the Wright brothers, and Edison all live on because of the impact they have made in our lives rather than just the money or impact they made on their own. It is us who keep their names alive through their stories and proud to continue telling stories of their visions and accomplishments.
This is the reason why I feel that many of us entrepreneurs may feel successful and accomplished but it isn’t until we reflect and wonder how we impact the lives of those around us that we can identify if indeed we are as extraordinary as those we keep talking about and bringing up when thinking of the word ‘success’ or ‘innovation’. It’s true that we compete with no one but ourselves, but I am pretty certain that many of us want to matter more than our bank accounts, and want to be remembered for more than our possessions or the rewards of our work, and more so for the obstacles we overcame in our journey and the positive impact we made on others.
Many things occur in our lives that help us become these great individuals, and all of them are free, they are only a matter of us knowing what to look for and understanding how our observations play a significant level in our growth. I, myself, have found my purpose in life, and it certainly was not until I made my first million that I understood that all my possession and the lifestyle I lived was far from the one I wanted to be known for. There is a moment in my life that I understood the importance of living in the third circle and doing so changed me forever by allowing me to see more of what others can’t see. I hope other entrepreneurs like you can make that transition at some point in your life as the world needs more leaders elevating their thinking and living in the third circle and driving the true innovation we need.