The Monk and the Riddle: The Art of Creating a Life While Making a Living - by Randy Komisar

Consider your budget of time in terms of how much you are willing to allocate to acquiring things versus how much you are willing to devote to people, relationships, family, health, personal growth, and the other essential components of a high-quality life. Rather than working to the exclusion of everything else in order to flood our bank accounts in the hope that we can eventually buy back what we have missed along the way, we need to live life fully now with a sense of its fragility.

Business isn't primarily a financial institution. It's a creative institution. Like painting and sculpting, business can be a venue for personal expression and artistry, at its heart more like a canvas than a spreadsheet. Why? Because business is about change. Nothing stands still. Markets change, products evolve, competitors move into the neighborhood, employees come and go.

Deferring your life on the chance that will hit it big is a huge gamble. The high odds of failure don't justify betting it will buy you the freedom you want. The course of your life and the course of are not unrelated. Figure out what you care about and do that. If you can do it in the context of, do it from the start. Don't concern yourself with exit strategies. At key points in my life, I've found it helpful to ask myself a simple question about what I was doing at that moment: What would it take for you to be willing to spend the rest of your life on

It's not, as I've learned from my own experience, that the deferred life is just a bad bet. Its very structure--first, step one, do what you must; then, step two, do what you want--implies that what we must do is necessarily different from what we want to do. Why is that the case? In the Deferred Life Plan, the second step, the life we defer, cannot exist, does not deserve to exist, without first doing something unsatisfying. We'll get to the good stuff later. In the first step we earn, financially and psychologically, the second step. Don't misunderstand my skepticism. Sacrifice and compromise are integral parts of any life, even a life well lived. But why not do hard work because it is meaningful, not simply to get it over with in order to move on to the next thing?

Passion pulls you toward something you cannot resist. Drive pushes you toward something you feel compelled or obligated to do. If you know nothing about yourself, you can't tell the difference. Once you gain a modicum of self-knowledge, you can express your passion. But it isn't just the desire to achieve some goal or payoff, and it's not about quotas or bonuses or cashing out. It's not about jumping through someone else's hoops. That's drive. In the Deferred Life Plan, drive pushes us through the first step. The second step, the deferred life itself, is the home of passion. We hope and suppose that when we get there, we will be able to resurrect our passions on our own terms. If we get there.

It's not about doing the same job for life. It's about what things you would consider worth doing today if it were your last day. Don't confuse drive and passion. Drive pushes you forward. It's a duty, an obligation. Passion pulls you. It's the sense of connection you feel when the work you do expresses who you are. Only passion will get you through the tough times. As I tell the M.B.A. classes I sometimes address, it's the romance, not the finance that makes business worth pursuing.

I always advise companies to define their business in terms of where it's going, what it's becoming, not simply where it is. Set the compass, then work hard to clear a path, knowing that you may meander as you stumble upon obstacles but will always keep heading toward the same coordinates.

Management and leadership are related but not identical. Management is a methodical process; its purpose is to produce the desired results on time and on budget. It complements and supports but cannot do without leadership, in which character and vision combine to empower someone to venture into uncertainty. Leaders must suspend the disbelief of their constituents and move ahead even with very incomplete information.

For some of us, Silicon Valley's forgiving attitude toward failure rests on a more profound realization: Change is certain, and in a world of constant change we actually control very little. When there are important factors outside your control, the risk of failure always looms, no matter how smart or industrious you are. We delude ourselves if we believe that much of life and its key events fall under our control.

Riding the highs and lows long enough, never being able to see beyond the next peak or the next valley, makes one realize there is only one element in life under our control--our own excellence. If you're brilliant, 15 to 20 percent of the risk is removed. If you work twenty-four hours a day, another 15 to 20 percent of the risk is removed. The remaining 60 to 70 percent of business risk will be completely out of your control. If you're excellent at what you do and the stars are in alignment, you will win. Of course, you may run out of time first, but, if you're excellent every day, you will have furthered your chances of beating the house as much as they ever can be. That should be your primary measure of success -- excellence -- not simply the spoils that come with good fortune. You don't want to entrust your satisfaction and sense of fulfillment to circumstances outside your control. Instead, base them on the quality of what you do and who you are, not the success of your business per se. Unless you understand what is truly outside your control, you are likely to make serious mistakes, misallocate resources, and waste time.

Work hard, work passionately, but apply your most precious asset--time--to what is most meaningful to you. What are you willing to do for the rest of your life? does not mean, literally, what will you do for the rest of your life? That question would be absurd, given the inevitability of change. No, what the question really asks is, if your life were to end suddenly and unexpectedly tomorrow, would you be able to say you've been doing what you truly care about today? What would you be willing to do for the rest of your life? What would it take to do it right now?

When all is said and done, the journey is the reward. There is nothing else. Reaching the end is, well, the end. If the egg must fall three feet without a crack, simply extend the trip to four.