Over the years I have run into a small number of hugely successful men. I have noticed that certain qualities of mind and action seem to characterize all of them:
- Most important, they are willing to work very hard and very long hours. Most people– sensibly, I think– are unwilling to sacrifice their social and family life to the proposition that they are going to get ahead by out-working everyone else—for years on end– but these people do.
- They often have an idea that others think is unrealistic. Sometimes this is an idea for a product, sometimes a way of selling, or some other business innovation. In particular, they are willing to ignore the scoffing of experts in their field.
- They are stubborn. Almost all of them have failed in some endeavor previously without getting discouraged.
- There comes a moment, when they have to “bet the house” on their business. They are at a point where they have to grow their business by buying competitors or investing in new machinery. They are willing to take this risk. One man, who started by mowing lawns, had literally to mortgage his house in order to buy a piece of equipment, on the way to owning the biggest construction company in the area.
- They continue growing their business past the point of having made all the money they could possibly spend during the course of their lifetime. In such a way, their work—which may involve accumulating more and more money—has little to do with the money itself. In a few cases, at least, they get to a point where they want to spend some of this money and cannot really find anything they want. They buy expensive cars they do not drive or a too-big house.
These men, who may or may not be educated, and may or may not seem unusually intelligent, are defined by their drive to succeed. I see them in psychotherapy at a time when they may be asking themselves a variation on “Is that all there is?” a question that sometimes bedevils successful people. This translates to another question, “What now?” which troubles all of us. (c) Fredric Neuman