Success and Sacrifice: Count the Cost

I really enjoy reading articles like this about the founder of Plenty of Fish, who makes millions of dollars a year off his online site, but I think there’s an inherent danger there too.

A lot of people have pipe dreams of hitting the entrepreneurial lottery and being that successful online. Heck, I admit it!

But most people think it’s easy. Like there’s no sacrifice involved. No sleepless nights. No working so hard that your health suffers. No risk, just reward.

I used to think like that sometimes … because in theory and in my head the steps were clear and looked easy. And it was all mapped out.

“If [this] happened, then [that] would happen. That. This. That. And boom! Success.”

Now, a year after launching iThemes (our store opened Jan. 24, 2008) … and the tremendous amount of work it took to get where we are today … my idealism has faded drastically.

Starting a business will do that.

And if I dwell too much on the toil, tears, frustrations, sleepless nights, endless strategy sessions, constantly venturing into new, unfamiliar territory (like hiring, taxes, etc) … I’d probably collapse from exhaustion. (But it was all worth it for me.)

A long time ago, as I began to ponder my own ‘youthful’ pipe dreams, I would start to map out the steps needed to get to where I wanted to be.

… and eventually I realized that the sacrifice involved to get to those pipe dreams was too high of a price to pay.

Back in August, I had this painful realization as we started to plan out a new venture. Several weeks after committing to pursue this new venture, I would get phone calls from family and friends and have to let them go to voicemail because I was just too busy and frankly, stressed out.

I thought how one of my clients had to hire an assistant to help her manage her social life.

At one point during this time, I actually began to think about doing that for myself.

Then I almost vomited at the thought.

So I slammed on the brakes for the new venture and called my partners. And we dropped it. (Great, supportive partners are worth their weight in gold.)

Every time I’m presented with new ventures, or ideas, I always try to count the cost. Many times when I’m talking with friends about their own dreams, I ask them if they are prepared to pay the cost of that success.

It’s awesome to dream … don’t get me wrong, I love and encourage people to have dreams and pursue them.

But I think we have to ask ourselves, “When is enough, enough?”

There’s a line where it goes from a dream to blind and empty ambition.

So what price are you willing to pay for your dreams? What would you sacrifice to get it?

If it comes at the price of relationships with the people I love, the God I serve, and my health … count me out.

Life’s too short for that.

By the way, if you’re weighing these issues in your life, yesterday’s sermon at our church on “Do You Own Your Stuff or Does It Own You?” helped me re-confirm all this in my life.

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2 thoughts on “Success and Sacrifice: Count the Cost

  1. Great thoughts and perspective. I’ve listened to Peter J Daniels for years and he often talks about paying the price- are you willing and to what extent?

    As a Christian it’s a tough thing to balance contentment with ambition.

    I really enjoy your writing style- thanks Cory.

  2. completely agree with you here cory. If you work passionately on something with your eyes open, “success” would come one way or another.

    But what price do we want to pay? If this is clear in the beginning, happiness would follow after the success. Otherwise, we will be nowhere when you get the success.

    thanks for this post.

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