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We all have our own idea of what makes a successful career. For some, it is owning a profitable business, for others it might be the stability and prestige of a high-paying profession. However, for most people, success is some combination of earning a high income while preserving the freedom to enjoy it. Unlike some people, I enjoy the process. I like the early stages of a new venture, even more than after it becomes an actual business. I am not however an adrenaline junkie. I am not willing to risk everything to pursue my next idea. I am my best when my business is doing well enough that I have the time and the means to pursue a passion project and a moonshot.
I have a younger cousin who visited me this past week. He is recently married with a newborn son. He has a very respectable career in the healthcare field. My cousin writes music, is active in his church and has a large vision for a business he wants to build. He reminded me a little of myself. Making money is important to me, but I am the kind of person that also cares a lot about the impact I am having on the world, especially for the people I care about most. My cousin’s profession is his foundation, his church and music are his passion projects, and his idea for a business is his moonshot. Everyone is different, but I think that is a good way to approach your career. It took years for me to build a strong and stable enough business to support me and my family. Building that foundation is the most critical part. Let’s face it, it doesn’t matter how much we love what we do, if it doesn’t support us financially, it simply won’t do. I personally don’t think you need to love what you do to pay the bills. It’s nice if you do, but it is not a requirement. Some people say you can’t be successful if you don’t love what you do. It certainly helps if you love it, but it’s hard to find something that you love that also pays enough money to live. I think most people acquire a healthy appreciation for the thing that supports them financially, and I think that is plenty good enough.
That’s why I think most people also need a passion project and a moonshot. Your passion project needs to be something that brings you joy and/or fulfillment. It can be something creative or philanthropic. It can be some form of artistic expression or some contribution to the world. Writing this blog is one way I accomplish this for myself. I also have the luxury of having a job that fulfills my need to make things better for others.
A moonshot is something different. It’s more about ambition. Even after 35 years in business, I am always thinking about my next moonshot. When I was a mortgage broker, my moonshot was NAHREP, and when NAHREP became a reality, my moonshot became L’ATTITUDE. Along the way, I have had many other moonshots that didn’t materialize into anything, but that’s what makes them a moonshot. They are big, hairy, audacious goals that excite us and give us something to dream about. I am currently sitting on about a dozen new moonshots, crazy…But that’s just the way I’m wired, I guess.
There is more than one path to success, and everyone has to find their own way.