Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché;
Sam and I both had kids on the soccer team, so we got to be casual friends. I remember that he was always very focused on the idea of being successful and he talked a lot about a product idea he wanted to get on the market. I didn’t see Sam for quite a while and wondered what happened to him. I ran into his wife at the local coffee shop and discovered she had kicked him out. He’d “borrowed” some money from their joint checking account to finance some deal that fell through. He’d also slept with the wife of a local financier, hoping to get a loan slipped through. Last she’d heard he was scheming on Twitter to get some backers who hadn’t heard what a slime he was.
I finally saw Sam again by accident on the street. I asked him how things were going and he boomed, “couldn’t be better! The business idea is really taking off.” When I expressed regret about his marriage, he waved it off. “When I get this idea going, everything will fall into place.” I found out that his business is going nowhere, but he seems convinced that the only way he’s going to get his life together is by focusing on nothing but making the business work.
What do you think ?
Dear Mr. H,
There is nothing wrong with trying to achieve things or having goals. A person without goals is probably not happier than a person who has them. Trying to be successful can be a positive thing and can give meaning to life. But it sounds as if Sam’s problem is that he has a life without any real life in it. As you noticed he is obviously bad news. I would go so far as to call him self-deluded and toxic. His story reminds me of a man I met who created a startup company, got investors to fund it, then realized the day before the product was to launch that he’d never chosen a product. He was so focused on the process of start up and did it all so wonderfully he forgot to actually design something to sell. Some people are delusional- all talk no reality. Investing any time in them would be like giving a transfusion to a vampire.
Even if this man is successful one day, would he stay happy? Success is a tool, not a goal, and it can be empty as well as meaningful. Success in and of itself is just a gambler’s win, and usually unsustainable.
Dr. Brilliant Cliché
Granny says: Sam sounds like somewhat of a psychopath. Unfortunately, often people like this can seem normal at first. But if you believe what is coming out of their mouths, you get sucked into a vortex of hallucinatory crap. As to his theories about success being the brass ring that will make him happy? Years of research and studies conducted though Yale University and Harvard show that success comes to happy people far more readily than it does to those who anxiously, and selfishly, pursue success while betraying their friends and family.