Walking recently on a hill behind my Killarney home, I was asked for consolation and advice by a CEO who claimed his life had become a lie. To family and colleagues, he is successful, flash, brash and influential but walking through heather and gorse into a stiff wind that stole his breath and stung his eyes, the beauty of our untamed and rugged environment prompted him to make an unexpected confession.
He had come to hate his job. Every waking hour of each increasingly long day he looked at his phone with dread, as all his commitments followed him every moment. Not long ago he explained, he had spent an hour chasing a critical message which he needed to answer urgently. He checked email, text, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook and could not find the communication he was looking for, in growing frustration, he realised he could not remember where the conversation had begun and on what area of social media the message was hanging unanswered. He was suffering technology overload, and in that instant, he felt overwhelmed, dizzy and unable to breathe.
This successful man was experiencing his first panic attack.
Sometimes in the pursuit of our dreams, we can forget that the journey is as important as the destination. The voyage to our full potential is not solely about the push towards success, but in realising what we want. We must be clear about our goals and be prepared to adapt and change our plans to become what we want to become.
Is our busy CEO as successful as the world imagines or has he lost the skill to tap into his own deepest wants and needs? It takes courage to step out of the comfort zone. Especially if those all around us are happy with the status quo, but to honestly be the best that we can be, we must take responsibility ourselves of our own lives. That means examining the direction that our life is taking us, and ensuring that we are still choosing the proper course.
In talking to me about his predicament, this intelligent and talented man was already forming answers to questions that I did not even need to ask. The simple act of breaking with the routine to take a stormy walk in a new environment away from phone and office had given him a new perspective, a chance to re-evaluate his present and his future.
Did he hate his job? No, he did not.
He merely needed to reorganise, to delegate, to put aside time to relish the fruits of his success, to take time to enjoy being a parent, a husband, a son and a brother.
There is no shame in enjoying your success. There is no shame in taking time to live life. From the moment we are born we are dying. The fact that life is short, and we should grasp every opportunity to live life to the fullest.
Success in business does not have to be attained at the expense of our happiness and health. We are all capable of living full lives that make a difference and achieving great things.
Be honest about your goals, speak to yourself, listen to your soul and remember to have time, we must make time.