I'll tell you a secret about Wall Street. The only people who win are the people who truly want to be there.
There are a lot of people there because they want the money, they want the status, and they have the work ethic, and so Wall Street is just a means to an end. They always lose to the people whose ambition is specific to Wall Street--people who only want to win there.
The people who actually win on Wall Street have a completely different mental formula that puts them head-and-shoulders above the competition, a formula that can be applied to your life regardless of your industry.
Why most people use the wrong formula
I ask my clients all the time, "What do you want in life?"
They almost always give me some massive vision. They tell me exactly what their life looks like in 15 years.
So I press them. "That's great, but what do you want tomorrow?"
That one usually stumps them. People spend so much time looking off at the horizon, they too infrequently see the path. They sometimes randomly pick one that they think will get them where they want, and then wed themselves to it.
That's how people who just want money end up grinding away their lives on Wall Street, and it's terrible. They've bought into the idea that the formula for success means slaving away for 20 years in the hopes of a reward--when in fact the opposite is true.
The real formula for success and happiness is all about what you're doing today, not what you hope you're doing decades from now.
The formula for success and happiness
The formula is all about balancing two things:
- Peace of Mind
You need to have the ambition to set a big goal and go after what you truly want, but what's the point if you never have the peace of mind to live today, or, quite frankly, any day? The Formula is simple.
First, really celebrate your life today. Seriously, if you can't feel amazing with what you've got then how will getting there or that or whatever feel any different? It won't.
Second, dream up your grandest vision for what you want. Really feel it, imagine it. And, see how the actions you are taking today are moving you in the right direction. Most importantly, really feel that joy of what it's like to already have achieved this.
Finally, and this is the real trick of The Formula, infuse the joy of your grandest vision into what you're doing today. Why wait to the future to celebrate that feeling when you can infuse it into the actions you're taking bringing your vision to life today.
If you can live with that joy day-to-day, you will be not only a happier person, but you will out-compete everyone around you. Why? Because you want to be there.
How I used the formula to beat Wall Street
I started my career at Goldman Sachs in Australia believing that I would spend the rest of my life there. That was a huge advantage for me.
When I went to analyst and later associate training I met many folks who didn't really want to be there. For them it was just putting in their time for whatever reason made sense to them, but to me it was the time of my life.
It was what I wanted to be doing, and I flourished in my junior years. Later, however, when I had lost my interest in Wall Street, I relied on this approach to do all the work that would eventually become my new life and career,
Over ten years or so I read books and focused on how to create the career and life that you truly want. For nearly all ten years I had no idea where it was leading me, I remained mostly confused, but by following this approach I kept charting the course.
I maintained my focus on my long-term vision, but, most importantly, every day I came in and kept making incremental advances in my job--ultimately making two more moves at Goldman and then leaving and joining the Carlyle group--while at the same time advancing forward my work on these topics related to all of our careers and lives.
To sustain that work over that long, with no end in sight, let alone any clear reason why I was doing it, required loving it purely for the game.
Certainly, knowing that if you just keep taking steps every day you keep moving in the right direction is helpful, but you want to keep training yourself to keep loving it just purely for what you are doing today.