One of my favorite questions to ask successful and influential people on The Influencers Podcast is: "Was there a point in life when you felt you had your big break? A time when you felt that you no longer had to prove yourself and that your problems were over?"
The answers I get are often charming. People say: "When I took my mom to the Emmy's as my date." or "When a famous director told me he liked my work." These are precious moments, but in reality, they aren't times when problems no longer exist.
No matter how wealthy, respected or famous you become, there are always problems. There's no point at which you can sit back and relax, thinking you'll still maintain the same level of success without putting in as much or more work into it.
I'll even take it a step further: The more successful you get, the larger problems you'll have. And that's a good thing. Here are two reasons why:
1. With great success comes even greater problems.
Any successful person will say that the answer is no. The most accomplished people are constantly pushing themselves to improve and do better than they did before. In fact, one of the biggest differences between influential people and everyone else is that their problems are bigger and more interesting.
For instance, I recently interviewed the CEO of Curemark, Dr. Joan Fallon, who is exploring treatments for autism and other illnesses like Schizophrenia and Parkinson's.
In another interview, Cindy Gallop founder of Make Love Not Porn discussed taking on the pornography industry. These are complex problems that don't have an easy solution.
2. You'll have more to lose when you fail.
Influencers take on massive challenges and audacious goals, with risks that are often much higher. They aren't trying to write a song. They are creating art that will win a Grammy.
They aren't only responsible for feeding their family but also the families of their investors and employees. If they fail, then all of those that rely on them are impacted too. Running a company, taking on climate change or advocating for social equality is much more intriguing problems that affect a lot of people.
You may be recognized on the street, but don't think it doesn't mean that you won't get lonely, suffer from anxiety or worry about your career. The more that you have, the more you stand to lose, and the stakes get bigger and bigger.
The key is to think bigger. Ask tough questions about how you're spending your time and look at the problems that you are faced with every day. If your most pressing issue is whether to swipe left or right, you can do something better with your time.
Taking on the widespread problem of getting funding for schools across the world makes life much more interesting. However, it also requires you to become the type of person who operates at the high level needed to tackle big issues.
If you truly want to be successful, the question you need to ask yourself is: Are my problems big enough?