“Another such victory over the Romans, and we are undone.” -Pyrrhus of Epirus
I’m transitioning into a writing season and there is a lot going on.
The new book (Levels of Wealth, available Q3 of 2022) has me on a tight “study diet” and there is a lot that I am reading that will ultimately not make the cut in the final manuscript.
Last week, after seeing the depth & breadth of my research, I requested to have a blog component added to the site, so I could share valuable bits and help centralize my ideas.
Like all things, this will grow with time and I’m not particularly in a rush.
You can share if you’d like or keep it to yourself if you’d rather, but the ideas I want to share are profound and some day, one way or the next, they’ll make their rounds across the globe and people near & far will benefit from them.
Within the last several months I’ve had quite a few conversations with clients about the idea of “rest,” and “peace.”
In 2019 when my daughter was born, I decided to change pace a little bit in light of having another human at home that I wanted to spend time with.
I was reading a chilling warning from an Ancient Greek figure that will help me make my point.
WHAT IS YOUR SUCCESS COSTING YOU
King Pyrrhus died in 272 BC. He was a living legend and a force to be reckoned with during his time on the earth.
History says he was a descendent of Alexander the Great and he became famous for his battle strategy and skill as commander.
In 281 BC he took what looked to be a contract assignment to help the Italian city Tarentum.
The contract was simply a promise of money, military labor, and a serious chance at taking over Italy which was a large political win that would propel him to more conquests later in life.
He took the contract and landed in Italy with 20,000 soldiers. Once he arrived in Tarentum, the “agreed upon” terms were changed and the Tarentines backed out of delivering more military men.
The Romans, knowing of King Pyrrhus’ reputation, decided to attack him immediately and they gave him no time to figure out what to do about the lack of fighting men.
The battle was unfair and the Romans grossly outnumbered Pyrrhus’ men.
The story is interesting though, because history records that Pyrrhus won the battle against the Romans and became even more famous.
Other cities heard of his victory and started sending him reinforcements.
With fresh reinforcements, he met the Romans again in battle in the spring of 279 BC. Another interesting point in history, as it is recorded that Pyrrhus won a SECOND time.
Here is a man who won not once, but twice against the greatest standing military power in the world.
The problem with the story is this: the Romans won in the end. They had more troops, more resources, and could survive indefinitely, it seemed. Pyrrhus lost so many men and resources, that he lost the ability to stay on the campaign.
The phrase, “Don’t let it be a Pyrrhic victory” comes from this tale, and it’s one of the most important lessons in business.
King Pyrrhus won the battle, and lost the war.
1. Your Integrity
There are a thousand ways I could trade away my integrity for money. All of them fail in the end, though. If you do this, you will arrive at your destination unhappy, unworthy, and unsettled.
There are countless stories of those who lost sight of their integrity just to make an extra buck. There are Insider traders.
Unfair business leaders. Political public servants who use their station to “get ahead” rather than help the people they govern.
You must protect your integrity or everything you achieve in this life will taste of gravel and leave you wanting.
2. Your peace
No matter what you’re facing or trying to accomplish in your life or business – your odds of hitting paydirt are a lot better if you protect your peace.
We’ve all met someone who seems chronically unhappy. They are stressed in the morning and stressed in the evening.
They have no sense of gratitude of where they’ve come from or the fact that they’re alive.
You don’t want to be this person. All of us will be tempted to be this person, though. And don’t think you’re above it simply because you aren’t driven by money.
Some of the unhappiest people I know, people who have lost their peace entirely, don’t even care about money – they care about status.
Or they’re obsessed with what people think about them. The greatest thief of your peace will be insecurity, so deal with it now rather than later.
3. Your family
In 2016 I was on a walk with my wife in our little apartment park. It was the end of summer, and the air was still humid and hot even though the sun was about to go down. I told her that I was scared.
My career had started to take off, and I didn’t want to be like so many people that I’ve studied who have gotten famous, or rich, and then lost their family.
Ultimately, I was at a crossroads: if achieving lasting wealth was going to come at the cost of my family, I was ready to slow down and choose mediocrity so that I didn’t have to choose between money and family.
It was a false dichotomy, and I just didn’t have the maturity at the time to know it. You can have both, but you have to focus on what’s most important and not let things get out of priority.
Now I am a father, and I can tell you that there is nothing I would trade for the relationship I have with my daughter or my wife.
At the end of my life, I’m sure I’ll have things that I would change. But I’m going to avoid the big regrets.
I’m going to go for it when I’m passionate about something. I’m going to treat people with kindness even if I disagree with them or what they’re saying.
I’m not going to miss out on my daughters most formative years just because I have clients to take care of. I’m going to date my wife even though we’re already married.
I will give money away even before I feel like I have hit all my goals.
Your life is a sum reflection of your choices. Sometimes, our error is that we underestimate the power of little choices and overestimate how much time we have left to make them.
Some things are worth it. But the variable that makes it so is the timeline.
There are things in my life that I’d like to get, eventually, that would absolutely cost “too much” if I achieved them too soon. The key here is knowing your allowable cost and sticking to it.
I’ll have a billion worth of assets, eventually. But not too soon…
I am not willing to do what is required to make that happen next year, or the year after, or the year after that. To make sure I hit my priorities, in order, I will let time take its course.
Some battles are worth winning… but winning them too soon will cost you the war.