A few weeks ago, I was invited to an event where entrepreneurs get together to hear about each others successes and the lessons learned from their failures. It was a very inspiring crowd of people from many different cultural backgrounds and industries.
The event had two main speakers and one of them was a pretty famous billionaire.
He shared his story of how he came up with his very first business idea and turned it into a very profitable business. He talked about the struggles of bureaucracy that came with setting up the factory needed to produce the products and the many headaches that came with it.
The billionaire shared some very valuable lessons about being first, competition, having a passion for what you do and having the right people around you. I was inspired by many parts of his story.
The Big Question
Towards the end of his session, people were able to ask questions. He was very elegant and direct in answering all the questions and always seemed to have an answer ready until somebody said “You have done some amazing things in your life and built large and profitable businesses. You have shared many great things about your past. But what’s next? What’s the next thing you are going to do? What else do you want to pursue?”
Throughout the entire session, the billionaire’s eyes were always focused on the audience and the person who asked the question. Now though, he suddenly looked down. It seemed like he was looking for the right answer on the floor.
It was silent for a few seconds until he answered “That’s the question I hate the most. I have done everything in my life I wanted to. I have achieved everything I could think of. I have more money than I could spend in 2 lives. But I have no more dreams for the future and that sucks.”
It was an answer that nobody expected.
Why We Stop Dreaming
Why would the billionaire suddenly stop dreaming bigger? After all, he did it for his whole life. He built all his great ventures on big dreams. Without those dreams, none of them would exist.
I believe there are 2 reasons why people stop dreaming.
1. Fear of Humiliation
2. Lack of Purpose
The Fear of Humiliation
This billionaire had built many ventures throughout his life, one bigger than the other. He had climbed the entrepreneurial ladder to the top and kept raising the stakes.
The issue with climbing the ladder is the higher you go, the harder you can fall. The higher you climb, the bigger the potential for humiliation.
It’s a bit like in the movie business. As they say “You are only as good as your last movie”.
Of course, this is nonsense. Because if it were true, there would be no “comebacks” from the artists who miserably failed with a movie after launching 5 award-winning masterpieces in a row.
Unfortunately, the resistance in our head is a persistent one.
What if the billionaire launched a new venture and it failed? Now that he has become famous and the media watches his every step, the resistance has big reasons to scream as loud as it can.
The resistance has now become so strong that it’s a lot easier to settle and deal with miserable mediocrity than to dare dreaming bigger and risk massive humiliation.
The Entrepreneur’s Hierarchy of Needs
I recently heard Jeff Walker talk about the Entrepreneur’s Hierarchy of Needs.
You have certainly heard about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. This is the equivalent for the entrepreneur.
Most entrepreneurs who start out want to build something that can generate a full time income and beyond, so they start at the money layer.
Once that is achieved, they aim to spend more time on the things that they love.
When the time puzzle is solved, it becomes all about being around the right people. Clients, partners, employees and vendors.
And then, when the relationship equation is solved, it becomes all about purpose.
Many times, that’s when entrepreneurs start to contribute and give back on a massive scale like you can see happening all around the world with some of the wealthiest people on this planet.
Richard Branson is just one example. Virgin Unite is a direct reflection of the highest layer at the Entrepreneur’s Hierarchy of Needs, purpose.
Bill Gates is another example with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Not every entrepreneur moves up the pyramid exactly that way but most do.
The Lack of Purpose
I often meet entrepreneurs who have become extremely successful in what society defines as success.
They have been able to tick off everything on their bucket list and make more money than they could have dreamed of when they started out. They are even very passionate about what they do.
However, there is something missing deep inside of them. There is a lack of purpose.
If you look at the Entrepreneur’s Hierarchy of Needs, it makes a lot of sense. Many times, they have been able to build ventures that literally can print money.
They have been able to create time so that they can play golf on Fridays and spend a major part of their time on the things that they want. They have also been able to surround themselves with only ideal people.
Between the relationship and the purpose layer of the pyramid is where many successful entrepreneurs get stuck. Now they get to decide to either take the very uncertain path to find purpose or to settle for comfortable mediocrity, get depressed and perish.
Nothing Wrong With Money
Just to clarify something. There is nothing wrong with making vast amounts of money. In contrary, I believe it’s a great multiplier.
It’s a whole lot easier to change the world with great levers like money and influential relationships by your side.
Money becomes and issue when people see it as the end all be all.
Money is nothing more than a means to and end. It’s a tool, and a great one.
If “more money” is the end goal, you will never arrive there. And even if you do, it’s a very “empty” place.
The question is “What do you want to do with the money?”
If you say “I want to earn millions to do all the things on my bucket list, buy all the toys the world has to offer and also invest in pursuits that positively impact the world”, you are most likely on the right path.
Treat money as what it is, a great tool and multiplier.
How to Avoid the Disheartened Billionaire’s Pitfalls
I hope you see that the path to wealth is a lot more enjoyable and meaningful if you know why you want to get there.
Here are 2 things to consider to avoid ending up as a disheartened billionaire:
1. What does your ideal life look like?
Exactly how much money do you earn?
How do you spend your time?
Who do you spend your time with?
How are you contributing?
2. What can you do right now to live your ideal life in terms of time, relationships & contribution?
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