I guess I’m suffering from a vacation hangover. As I drove to work this morning, I shouted “punchbug” with no kids to echo the VW sighting. Sitting at my desk, images of the long days on the beach are flashing on my monitor. In honor of the R&R, I had a vacation observation that I thought I would post for you.
People do all types of things on the beach: they play corn hole, ladder ball, paddle ball, frisbee, swim, surf, sing, and sleep. Some curious folks spend hours combing the sand with metal detectors to turn up a few buried treasures. Still others walk the beach looking for shells and other treasures that the ocean yields to the shore.
On occasion a child exclaims, “I found a shark tooth.” That moment is special because of the scarcity of shark teeth rendered on the sandy beach, but really there are thousands of shark teeth. It is special to find one or a four leaf clover when you just happen upon them. The reality is that without choosing a strategy, finding these rarities is a long shot.
While at the beach, my niece found a shark tooth. She was looking for something fantastic sifting through the water cooled sand, and she found it. That was the only shark tooth that anyone in our group found. Then I saw a boy combing the shoreline and his hand was filled with a dozen of the little treasures. I inquired, “what do you have there?”
“Shark teeth” he responded. “I comb the beach all day looking for them and today I have found, ten, twelve, fifteen teeth.”
“So, you don’t boogie board or play frisbee with your family?” I asked.
“I wouldn’t find them if I was doing that stuff.”
Indeed. I guess this was the treasure that I was combing my vacation for. I needed that little nugget of wisdom. Right or wrong we get out of the experience the things that we are looking for. If you are looking to be a millionare, seek it, but know that to get those jewels, you have to sacrifice. Just as the boy had to give up the boogie board for the shark teeth, you sometimes have to sacrifice time with those people you love to earn the dollars.
In his commencement address to Princeton, I think Jeff Bezos illustrated this point nicely.
I will hazard a prediction. When you are 80 years old, and in a quiet moment of reflection narrating for only yourself the most personal version of your life story, the telling that will be most compact and meaningful will be the series of choices you have made. In the end, we are our choices. Build yourself a great story. Thank you and good luck.
What shark teeth are you looking for? Are they part of that compact and meaningful story?
In his speech, I think Bezos hit a nerve with me when he asked: “Will inertia be your guide, or will you follow your passions?” Sometimes, it is so much easier to take the path of least resistance.