This week I have been reminded on multiple occasions how difficult it is being human. Here it is: being human is difficult. It’s difficult for everyone. We are messy and imperfect and complicated and irrational. It’s easy to forget that.
I want to remind you.
I spend a lot of time with people. In my mission to help people make the most of their money, we can get deep into the messiness of life, relationships and business. Whilst I am not a therapist, or a coach, I think I have a fairly good understanding of the human condition.
I just finished listening to Tim Ferriss interview Jerry Colonna. You can listen here. Jerry is CEO and cofounder of Reboot, an executive coaching and leadership development firm. He was previously a successful venture capitalist at JP Morgan, among other places, managing a $23 billion fund.
The conversation is deep and at times jolting.
As a coach, Jerry has three powerful questions:
1) What am I not saying that needs to be said?
2) What am I saying that’s not being heard?
3) What’s being said that I’m not hearing?
When asked by Tim to give an example of something that he needed to say that he didn’t say or that wasn’t heard, Jerry responds about a time in his life when he hit rock bottom:
“I wasn’t happy. That despite all the outward trappings of success, I was empty and hollow inside. That I wasn’t speaking truthfully. That I wasn’t living in integrity, and that I was too afraid of losing the good graces and esteem of everybody around me to actually talk about the fact that I did not want to do what I was doing with my life at that point.”
He goes on to say that he didn’t know what else he was going to do, and he was too terrified to do anything other than continue what he was doing. He managed a $23 billion fund and says to Tim “even in that moment (when you pointed out that it was a $23 billion fund), I felt a little bit of that pride mixed with a little bit of the shame, because I walked away from that. Right? And I didn’t want to lean into that space of ‘What if I don’t matter anymore? What if nobody calls me?’”
Jerry got out because he ran out of the ability to continue to operate anymore. He was saved by his therapist, literally (he talks about how he almost flung himself in front of a NY subway train). But as Tim and Jerry point out, a lot of people seemingly don’t make it through those questions. They stay in a given track, for five, 10, 15, 20 years. Or a lifetime. They stay stuck for a lifetime.
The stakes are too high.
Jerry’s story might seem unique, but this theme has popped up over the past week with various people, in various different conversations. The theme is ‘I feel trapped by the outward appearance of success’, ‘I know I want to do something different with my life but I don’t know what’, ‘people would think I was crazy if I walked away from all of this (this being: well paid job, a title, prestige, respect)’.
How does this link to your money? Well, remember, money is the tool. We are not optimising for money, we are optimising for happiness. My goal is not that you die rich, but that you live richly. This is all linked.
I don’t have all the answers but I know that you are not alone. I know that despite what we see on the outside everyone has their struggles. Everyone is human. Just remember that.