how much is enough? In my opinion there is no such thing as enough when you start measuring. So many stories and examples recently of lifelong partnerships falling apart even when presumably the partners had more material success than anybody else possibly alive on earth today. What does it tell us about happiness and about contentment? Too much of anything, including what the common Joe understands to be success, is probably not a good thing?! And yet when you think about it, is too little of success guaranteed to make you feel content, satiated, gratified?
In my line of work I encounter tricky technical issues on a daily basis. It’s like a doctors job only not for living beings. I have seen stuff that, I’m told, people drawing 8 figure salaries would pay to go through just so that they could write books about those infrastructure and security incidents and move on to being 9 figure folks. Some of these technical issues are repetitive and over the years it has become very easy to handle them. Stuff that took a few days to figure out when I first encountered it now takes me 15 minutes or less. However I seem to have hit upon the key to deriving the same sense of achievement and satisfaction from the process. Pray how and more importantly why? Why not move ahead from here and do bigger, better RCAs and fixes (root cause analysis the stoutest kick you could ever land in the pit of the stomach of an IT professional). Well I never said I do not move forward did I? I keep moving forward all the time, however, and you need to understand this through analogy, riding around in a Porshe Cayenne does not mean that I would forget the joys of taking a simple walk in the park all by myself… or does it? If anything the walk in the park is so much more attainable, achievable and stress free… one scratch on the Porshe and you’re going to be depressed… the walk in the park is pretty much that a walk in the park! As for the “How?” It’s really simple, give up on adulation and self love… do not commit to memory whatever solutions you are arriving at solve the problem again when you encounter it again… heck reinvent the bloody wheel. Derive the same Eureka moment feeling every time you solve the same problem, be happy without making any real effort at trying to find increasingly elusive traditional gratification.
This is my realization: we spend too much time gloating over our achievements, writing about them on forums, discussing at conferences and essentially pretending to share with the world with an objective to make it a better place. In the process we forget the main purpose, the reason why we arrived at that solution, the Passion. The passion is what kept you awake three nights in a row when a tricky coding issue was not budging or a server just wont stop misbehaving. It’s the knowledge that at the end of the dark dank tunnel of hopelessness there is light and a bonfire and maybe sun and food and rainbows and games…. that keeps you going. You try each and every trick in the book to solve the problem at hand and often retrace your steps when you get lost as well. You finally arrive at the solution and the euphoria is heady. In itself having found the solution to a problem is reward enough but then you get greedy you start teaching the world, writing about it you record your travels for posterity’s sake, forgetting the one golden rule that we all should always remember “history teaches us that we never learn from history”… your footprints in the sands of time are just that footprints in sand… they will be gone within a couple of generations at most and then there would be the next guy who comes along and says damn the neanderthals who devised the previous solution all we needed to do was blast a hole in the roof of the tunnel and rappel our way up the channel! Your solutions would be forgotten, your ideas lost. If you’re lucky at best they would use part of your hard work in their new age answers and maybe just maybe someone would remember your name fat good it does to the you of today… and you spent your whole life trying to publicize that one big breakthrough that you thought would change the world?! All it did was rob you of the gratification you could have achieved by not recording the solution, forgetting about the problem and then one fine day stumbling headlong into the same tunnel all over again only to emerge out of it in 3 hours later, instead of the 3 days it took you last time, triumphant and ecstatic (the world would say…. oh screw the world imagine yourself victorious again). That would’ve given you way more sense of accomplishment and a much more rewarding life for your own self and if the world wanted to learn it would learn by observation no need to break your back trying to coach the unteachables.
Some would call it selfish, I call it self preservation. Gratification is about deriving pleasure from ones accomplishments, possessions, achievements or experiences. Now what if I told you that just like a psychotropic drug there is no optimal level and that as you go on along this road you will keep on requiring more potent quantities to feel the same rush of gratification?! Seems like a great way to live ones life, progress, growth, rising above the ordinary, being extra and shall I say definitely not being that minimum guy! At what cost? We all know how a more potent form of the same drug costs more and more as we go up the potency ladder and how it takes its toll on your organs. The side effects also keep increasing as you up the dosage. It’s the same with success, as the world today knows it. You keep wanting more of it and you keep working your ass off to get more of it, however at a certain point you lose the plot, the reason why you started out in the first place, your reason to exist is lost. Now you are a slave, addicted to the heady kick that comes from “more”. More is not any more about achieving the objective, more is now about more alone. The way I see money for instance is what do I need it for and how important is that objective however most people after a point will just go after it because well it may not buy you happiness but heck it sure pays all the bills… I can’t disagree to the pay the bills part. It sure is important to pay your bills and be enough successful to have a decent life. However, and this is where my definition of success tends to veer off the beaten path, what are those bills you are struggling so hard to pay? Do you really need all that “stuff” in your life to be happy? Then why don’t you feel gratified enough when you have all that stuff?! Who moved your cheese?!
Understand yourself, escape from the world where you are dependent on external appreciation for internal satisfaction and minimize your life, be the damned minimum guy. Be the person who does what he likes over and over and over and over again because it gives him happiness. Do not worry about the world ridiculing you for being limited in your scope or about being a lunatic for repeating your journey every single time. Be more concerned about the fact that you have exited the fools’ paradise and built your own eutopia. For there is no greater answer-ability that you have than to your own self. Gratification is a weird animal, it does not depend on what others feel about your sense of well being, it answers only to your own inner voice. I like to believe you need to be your priority first. As for the world… it can go take a hike, you just keep doing that which makes you happy, really happy, not that which the world goads you on to do….
In the immortal words of Mr Gump: “That day, for no particular reason, I decided to go for a little run. So I ran to the end of the road. And when I got there, I thought maybe I’d run to the end of town. And when I got there, I thought maybe I’d just run across Greenbow County. And I figured, since I run this far, maybe I’d just run across the great state of Alabama. And that’s what I did. I ran clear across Alabama. For no particular reason I just kept on going. I ran clear to the ocean. And when I got there, I figured, since I’d gone this far, I might as well turn around, just keep on going. When I got to another ocean, I figured, since I’d gone this far, I might as well just turn back, keep right on going.” – Forrest