From a young age, our concept of success is molded by our parents, teachers, and peers.
We equate it with the number of zeros in our bank accounts, the zip codes we live in and the make of car (or cars) in our driveway. These things are easily measured, making great but flawed proxies for success.
We often find a correlation between these proxies and obesity, drug addiction, divorce, and nervous breakdowns.
History is littered with professionally successful people whose personal lives were in disarray.
Is that what success looks like?
Is that what we want?
Of course not.
For a long time, I kneeled at the altar of hustle.
And as a result, I undervalued close personal relationships.
In my late 30s, it resulted in the breakdown of a five-year-long romantic relationship — the loss of a best friend, albeit an underappreciated one.
It was in the aftermath of this loss, sitting in my living room, surrounded by the silence, painful reminders, and the void left behind, that I came to an all too late epiphany.
Success is pointless unless you have people to share it with.
Whatever I had achieved as an entrepreneur, author or investor felt meaningless.
When you have nobody to share your day with, nobody to share your exciting news with, nobody to spend your extra money on or go to that holiday spot with, it all just feels a little…empty.
The motivation you once had to do the work suffers, because you finally realize that no amount of external success will fill the void.
A stable and fulfilling romantic relationship can be fundamental to doing great work and playing the long game.
It is a green light of sorts, to channel Matthew McConaughey, and clears the path for you to focus on getting to your desired destination.
I used to snicker whenever someone said “behind every great man is a great woman”, thinking that a man’s worth is his own. But I now appreciate what this means.
We might learn things the hard way, but if we take the time to listen, life teaches us what we need to know to become better and hopefully the most enlightened and actualized person we can be.
So if you’ve got a one-track mind, hellbent on external success, but find yourself neglecting your personal relationships…stop and reflect.
What will all that success be worth when you have nobody to share it with?
Steve Glaveski is on a mission to unlock your potential to do your best work and live your best life. He is the founder of innovation accelerator, Collective Campus, author of several books, including Employee to Entrepreneur and Time Rich, and productivity contributor for Harvard Business Review. He’s a chronic autodidact and is into everything from 80s metal and high-intensity workouts to attempting to surf and hold a warrior three pose.