I just heard a great comparison between being physically hungry and hungry for success, which made me want to unpack a few of my own thoughts on the matter.
If I invited you to a fine dining experience tonight, and told you that everything you ordered was on the house, you’d eat just enough throughout the day to support your productivity levels so that your appetite wouldn’t be impacted for later. So when we allow ourselves to snack on more symbols of success than we can properly digest before our next big “meal”, it can diminish the voracity of our appetite for putting in the work to achieve our goals, and within the time frame that we want to achieve them in.
From where I stand, there are two places where I get to see this condition play out on a consistent basis, and it’s within personal finance and music. In personal finance, it simply means that you’re trying to be fancy before you’re “fancy”, whereby you lack the funds to maintain the image of your lifestyle for the long haul. And while some may maintain the fire to keep pushing so they can maintain the air of such an image, some can fall prey to not realizing that the relaxed nature of those who can actually afford to maintain an affluent lifestyle is because they have enough margin in their budget to not have to look over their shoulder every time they make a purchase to ensure that their bank accounts can cover the cost. And if you’re trying to emulate that, then therein lies the point where the appetite of your work ethic can take a hit. Meaning that if the others are making it look easy, then you might think that it’s easier than you think, thus causing you to overlook some important details which are necessary for maintaining such a lifestyle.
Now when it comes to music, this tends to play out when the impressive level of one’s performance experiences aren’t congruent with their understanding of the fundamentals of music. For some, they’ll quietly invest the time behind closed doors to shore up those deficiencies as quickly as possible (which seem to be few and far between). But then there are those who will create a protective bubble around them that serves to keep people from realizing just how hollow their foundation really is. And it’s these people that will attempt to create a counter argument that can exonerate them from the guilt of knowing that they fully allowed themselves to build such a flimsy musical foundation, as they proceed to devalue an investment of time for shoring up such deficiencies by pointing to their performance resume as a means of somehow balancing the scale between the educated and uneducated…which, by the way, has nothing to do with having attended an actual brick and mortar school. A valid education is education, regardless of where it comes from.
So I trust you can see that when we grow our capacity to digest the symbols of success to where there’s no diminished impact on our energy, flexibility, and ambition level, we’ll get to experience long range success. But when our margins are too tight, we leave ourselves vulnerable to fewer missteps that can be made before we’re sent into a tailspin that might take us longer than we’d like to recover from. So as we continue to contemplate what our respective futures have in store for us, remember this phrase: “dig your well before you’re thirsty”.