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The First Mountain and the Second Mountain

I recently read a summary of a book called The Second Mountain, by David Brooks, and it inspired me to write this blog.

One common thing all humans share is the goal to be happy. And we believe that being successful will make us happy.

But what is success? Too often many of us adopt the cultural cues for what it means to be successful.

A bigger car, bigger house, more money, more time, more travel, even fame.

And so we can become driven in business to get all the trappings of success. When we are on the journey up that First Mountain of success it is easy to become so focussed on getting there, that we don’t think at all about whether all this effort is worth it or not.

…then one of three things happens….

We Keep Raising the Mountain Peak Higher

In the struggle up the First Mountain, it is possible to become so driven that we actually gain some success. And, then…oh my gosh… we find we don’t feel fulfilled! Rather than questioning the journey we raise the peak higher thinking perhaps a stronger push to a higher realm will bring about those deep feelings of satisfaction we all long for.

It goes like this – we have a nice car, a good home, some travel time, money in the bank. And we look around comparing ourselves to others with more, and like an elevator with no top floor, we keep pushing for a higher peak.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love achievement, and I am not suggesting for a second that we shouldn’t have goals that stretch and inspire us.

I am pointing out to something different now, something more interior than exterior…

Some people….

…Get to The Top, But….

Imagine you have made it. You have it all – money, fame, freedom, and friends.

The question that haunts people when they reach the top is this: “is this all there is?”

To emphasise what I mean consider this comment from Freddie Mercury, the lead singer in the rock group Queen, who had amassed a huge fortune, attracted thousands, probably millions, of fans. But he admitted in an interview shortly before his death that he was desperately lonely.

He said this:

“You can have everything in the world and still be the loneliest man. And that’s the most bitter type of loneliness. Success has brought me world idolisation and millions of pounds, but it’s prevented me from having the one thing we all need: a loving, ongoing relationship.”

Here is another:

“I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.” ― Jim Carrey

We Experience Serious, Life-Altering Setbacks on the Way Up

Sometimes while climbing up the first mountain of success we experience severe setbacks – a health crisis, a death in the family, a divorce, or a sick child (nothing could be much more heart-rending than that!)

These life-altering events force us to re-think our lives and to re-align our priorities with a different focus.

The Second Mountain

Once you have achieved some of the dream you were looking for, and found it did not make you happy, then the re-examining of your life can have you re-think your business. What is it for? Who is it for?

The one thing all humans have in common – the one limiting factor – is that we all only have 24 hours in a day.

So, we ask – is it worth it to give up so much of our precious time struggling to climb to the top and forfeit those school events with our kids, time with our spouses, or even just time with ourselves?

And so, for some, we set our sights on the Second Mountain. The Second Mountain is based on internally set values, not external. We stop being concerned about what others think of us as we climb a different, more fulfilling mountain. We stop comparing. Although there are many people with more than we have, Wisdom tells us that, (for most of the Western world), we ALL have significantly more than 95% of the rest of the world. So, why compare to the 5%.

From this new place, we re-set our business values too. We can ask, what is my business for? To make more and more money, or to make a life?

How can we work less so we have more time?

What boundaries do we need to put in place around our time?

Where are our profits going? Whom, besides ourselves and our small family does our business serve?

Some questions to think about it.

Thanks for reading…