I love inspirational quotes that move us to action. I've written about many of them, including some from Kobe Bryant that circulated after his untimely death. Occasionally one will pop up that stops me in my tracks.
This one, in particular, which is attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson, has made such an impact on Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos that he hangs it up on his fridge.
To laugh often and much; to win the respect of the intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the beauty in others; to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know that one life has breathed easier because you lived here. This is to have succeeded.
What strikes me about this quote is that the richest man on the planet, with a net worth of $144 billion, allows us a surprising glimpse into what he values beyond the almighty dollar.
Laughter, respect, affection, beauty, health, well-being, generosity -- these are not your typical business metrics that define success. But to Bezos (and Mr. Emerson), when it's all said and done and we are about to hang up our cleats, it should and does matter.
Let your passions choose you
These are the fruits you bear from a life well lived by consciously choosing to do the things you're passionate about -- the things you are called to do that make you "tap dance to work" every day, to borrow an expression from one of the many books about billionaire Warren Buffett.
Bezos can testify: "You don't choose your passions, your passions choose you," he once said. "All of us are gifted with certain passions, and the people who are lucky are the ones who get to follow those things."
Following your passions comes with added benefits: you love coming to work because you love what you do. Buffett said it best: "In the world of business, the people who are most successful are those who are doing what they love."
So what do you love? For most of us, we take for granted our cushy paycheck, health benefits, and job security, even though we may dislike our jobs and toxic co-workers, and wish we were doing something else -- something we actually loved.
Doing what we love as entrepreneurs and business owners is a major contributor to our happiness as humans. And, more important, knowing what you love should be a top priority. If you don't know what it is you love, then finding out what it is should be your first step.