Jeff is a world class salesperson. His drive, his passion for the deal built the last company he was a co-founder of into the leader in its industry. They started the business in a start up garage and grew it into a billion dollar company.
He could have taken his foot off the pedal and coasted, reaping the rewards of his hard work for years. He peers idolised him. He was wealthy beyond his wildest dreams. You would have never guessed it, but he was unhappy. Something was missing for him in his life. He didn’t take the time to think too hard about it though. He assumed that his restlessness was because he needed more business-fuelled adrenaline.
He walked out of the company he had co-founded. His industry experience made him a beacon for best of breed activity. His calendar quickly filled up with clients. Learning from his previous business he kept things lean. He took on no staff. He didn’t have an offices. He kept his focus on the core business – selling high end products to the ultra wealthy.
As one deal morphed into another, time began to tick away and before he knew it several years had passed. He was busier than he’d ever been before. This meant that he saw little of his family and his growing collection of expensive toys sat idle most of the time.
It took a while, but he came to realise that his work wasn’t fulfilling him. That said, he was a master at denying his inner voice. All he wanted was to get through the deal he was working on and then he would pare back. He told himself that after this deal he would be happy. He was certain of it. He would blow away the dust on his toys and spend time with his wife. He would take his eldest son sailing.
– As soon as this deal closes I’m done. I’ll be able to spend time with my family. I can’t wait. I’ll be happy then.
But the deal was one of the most complicated he had worked on. It kept extending out and while it looked like it was about to close, it never did. Another complication arose that he had to resolve. Other deals came along and, while he was choosy, he could not let all those opportunities pass him by. The pressing needs of his clients crowded his mind. Thoughts of happiness, family and quality time faded into the background.
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.
You may recognise part of yourself in this story. I do. But for me this never ending cycle of busyness and delayed joy ended abruptly. I’d devoted my whole Sunday to getting ahead of the curve before an international flight in the morning. I spent little time with my wife and two teenage boys before retreating back into my study that day. I never made my flight in the morning. Around 10h30pm that Sunday night I died. I still get goosebumps thinking about it now.
I was one of the lucky ones. I was able to revive myself and after weeks in three different intensive care units I emerged from hospital. My sudden cardiac death experience became a trigger that set me off on a transformation path.
My priorities changed. I was able to still my busy mind and focus inwards. I peeled back layers and layers until all that remained was my inner voice. Like a muscle that has atrophied it was weak, I could hardly hear it. But with constant exercise it became stronger. As it did I felt myself becoming calmer, more attuned to the universe. Pure joy entered my life. I quit my high flying role advising Fortune 500 companies on leadership and technology trends.
During my transformation I knew I had to do something meaningful with this amazingly rare opportunity. At first my ego stepped in – loud and proud – it shouted, this second life is an opportunity to build a technology business like no other. I’m an expert on autonomous systems, digital business and creating high-growth, disruptive businesses. It’s a no brainer.
I’ll admit it was tempting, but this was a trap. My inner voice asserted itself and I realised it was not my calling. My destiny is to be of service to others. There are so many people like Jeff caught in a vicious cycle of delaying their true joy. They fill their minds, but never find fulfilment. My role is to be a wayshower, a guide who can help them on their own transformation journey.
Why work on a business or deal that, while it may deliver millions of dollars to your personal bank account, does nothing for you as a person?
Invest the time to determine what excites you, what delivers real meaning to you. Work on that for the rest of your life. It’s true value – your fulfilment and inner joy is priceless.
An exhausted Shervin Pishevar found himself in a hotel in Eastern Europe after 3 days of gruelling travel. But the technology entrepreneur was elated. He had found his calling.
“It is in these sleepless hours, propelled by my inner drive to make a dent in world, where I find the solace to connect with the deepest parts of my own soul. Some find that solace in yoga, exercise, religion, music. I find solace when I ‘do’- when every cell in my body is telling me that I am doing something that will move my ideas from my brain into the hands of millions of people. This is when I am most alive. I feel the power that we all have inside of ourselves to bring life to the dreams we hold in our hearts.”
His journey represents our power when we connect with our inner voice, when we connect our being with aligned doing.
Today Shervin continues listening to himself, and he continues to make a difference. He has moved from being an entrepreneur into one of the most powerful venture capitalists in Silicon Valley. He is now a thought leader to whom entrepreneurs from all over the world turn for guidance.
Rarely does one wake up to find themselves transformed. It can take months, even years. The journey usually starts with a sense of the collapse of a person’s ego structures. Something much deeper within them seeks to voice itself, call it the soul voice. This call marks the start of a journey to recalibrate the structures that surround a person. To align with their soul voice a person may need to change their workplace, their community, their activities.
This journey may start with the onset of one of many signals. Some people feel an apathy, an indifference to what used to be important. Closing that deal may not excite Jeff anymore. Others have varying degrees of anger or feelings of isolation.
Fabrice Grinda has an estimated net worth of $100 million. The entrepreneur lived on a 20-acre estate in Bedford, New York. He drove a $300,000 McLaren and had a Madison Square Park apartment for the weekends. But something about his material lifestyle didn’t resonate with him anymore. He moved out of the Bedford house and got rid of his apartment and McLaren. For him it was time to rearrange things and live a more meaningful life. His central focus shifted to family, friends and experiences. They replaced his obsession with busyness and possessions.
The transformation journey involves peeling back the layers, revealing more and more essential truth. This can be a painful time filled with confusion and fear. Repressed feelings can flood into a person’s consciousness, causing discomfort. Moments of uncertainty about the path forward can hinder progress.
A support network can prove invaluable as one goes through this inner self revolution. There are no easy answers, nor is there a digital map to consult. It helps to have a guide who one can talk to about the barriers within as the change begins to unfold.
Alignment with one’s inner self not only makes one feel more fulfilled, but gives one more empathy and turns us into better leaders. Instead of being filled with one’s own joyless noise, we listen at a deeper level and start to hear what our people are really saying.
Rand Leeb-du Toit is Chair & CEO of EXOscalr, the transformational leadership coaching and advisory business. He works with CEOs and other leaders to assist them transform and scale themselves and their businesses from being great to extraordinarily great. EXOscalr’s goal is to add $1 trillion in value and touch the lives of 2 billion people through its clients by 2025.