A few months ago, I was introduced to a successful businessman who agreed to be interviewed for research towards my next book.
I want to protect names and identity, so let's call him John for the sake of argument.
The person who introduced me to John was impressed about how focussed and motivated he was and that was exactly the sort of person that I'm interested in speaking to.
It became clear that John was, indeed, a very driven person, with lots of different financially profitable activities going on, not just businesses, but also investments in properties, gold and even online trading on the stock market. We didn't discuss numbers but it was pretty clear that, if he wasn't a millionaire, he would be very soon.
Within the interview, we discussed a number of things on a number of topics but, one area I was particularly interested in, was where his drive came from.
First of all, John was very clear that he enjoyed what he did. That was essential to everything and we were both very much on the same page with that one.
As we dug deeper, however, an interesting development arose as it became very clear that John was driven by fear. Fear of not having enough.
To the extent that, if business sales were down in any given week, he would react by getting stressed and panic. This had got so bad that he admitted that he was being treated for anxiety and depression.
Personally, that doesn't sound like someone who's enjoying what they do.
His aim, his purpose, was nothing more than to be financially free. That was the fundamental premise that underpinned his motivation. Anything, that threatened that created intense emotional stress.
“How much more do you need in order to be financially free?” I asked.
“To be honest,” replied John, “I'm probably financially free already. But it's still not enough.”
This is not the first time I've met someone that is desperately trying to get something, that they already have. Sometimes, just being made aware of it can be enough to change their approach and remove the stress from their lives but, if the fear is very deep rooted, then the individual will never be satisfied.
We then get this apparent contradiction. The deep rooted fear is the source of their success but, what happens if you remove the fear?
From my experience, whilst it does have to be handled properly, there is a balance that can be found that, on the one hand maintains the drive and the motivation but, on the other, doesn't tip over into madness and breakdown.
In John's case, we did do a bit of exploring around the reason but a combination of it being an interview, not a coaching session, along with being interrupted by work colleagues, meant that I only got a hint as to what the reasons were.
Nevertheless, the fear of losing everything can be a massive issue for some people and, when you are ruled by your fears, bad things can happen.
Take for example the German multi-billionaire Adolf Merckle. During the 2008 global recession his businesses started getting into difficulty. A lot of money was lost but he was able to take action so that the majority of them were saved, even it meant selling them off. Adolf himself lost a quarter of his fortune but was still estimated to be worth $6 billion.
Yet, on 5th January 2009, Adolf Merckle deliberately walked in front of an express train. He was 74.
There will always be speculation about his motivations and his reasons but what is clear is that, when your fears consume you, then no matter how successful you may be in the traditional sense, it is never enough.
This is one of the reasons that I started up the Business Enjoyment Community.
One of the fundamental elements of being successful and able to enjoy life at the same time is to ensure that get the balance right between what drives you and what engulfs you. These are the sort of things that we explore, share and discuss at the Community meetings.
Each meeting has a different theme to focus on and helping people to get them in the right state and the right position to be able to relax is part of “Feeling Safe”.
If you're interested in coming along, click on this link here:
We only have one location at the moment but, over time, I expect to set up three more in the Yorkshire area and run one online, so keep checking in for updates.
I look forward to seeing you soon.