My father and mother went all the way for our family.
Dad was ill with a virus and fever when he took the California State Bar Examination in the 1960s. Miraculously, he passed on his first attempt.
The years leading up to that exam were challenging. Dad juggled his day job as a labor relations manager with evening law classes and weekend study sessions.
“Sacrifice is a part of life. It’s supposed to be. It’s not something to regret. It’s something to aspire to.”
-Mitch Albom, The Five People You Meet in Heaven
A few years later, Dad was appointed by the Governor to the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board. Unfortunately, the position was in Sacramento, a two-hour drive from our home in Los Gatos.
Mom and Dad didn’t want to lose the home they built in the hills of Los Gatos, so they hatched a difficult plan. Dad would rent a small apartment in Sacramento, and work Mondays through Thursdays.
It wasn’t easy.
Mom became mostly a single parent for several years, raising my sister and me while Dad was working in Sacramento. We used to get so excited when Dad returned home Thursday evenings, only to feel down when he left for work again early Monday mornings.
Sacrifice is hard, but like compound interest, it can pay off down the road.
It’s all about spinning plates
When I graduated from University with a degree in Criminal Justice Administration, I was anxious to begin my law enforcement career.
I was excited about getting an apartment, making some money, and serving my community as a peace officer.
But my father had other plans.
“John, why don’t you pursue a Master’s degree? We’ll help fund it, and you can live at home. It’ll be easier to do it now before you start your career,” Dad suggested.
Two years of graduate school didn’t sound as exciting as diving into my new career, but I knew how much a graduate degree could benefit me. Also, I remembered my father’s history of juggling a day job with law school.
“We take each week as it comes; we’re juggling just like everybody else. It’s all about spinning plates.”
I accepted my parent’s generous offer, took a part-time job working security for Apple Computer, and two years later graduated with my Master’s degree.
During my law enforcement career, I watched fellow officers struggle to pursue their university degrees while working and raising families. I was thankful that Dad talked me into graduate school before I started my career.
Life is a long game
It’s hard to delay gratification. I remember being jealous of friends who became police officers while I embarked on two more years of university work. But it paid off in the long run for me.
Gary Vaynerchuk is the founder and CEO of VaynerMedia (700+ employees with over $100-million annual revenue) and the New York Times best-selling author of #AskGaryVee. He shares the following advice about delayed gratification from a BusinessInsider.com article:
“I’ve learned the importance of sacrificing short-term pleasures for long-term happiness. Life is a long game, and when you start a business, you’ve made a decision that doesn’t allow any time in year one to focus on anything but building it. I’m talking code red, 18-hours-a-day dedicated-even at the mercy of your family time. But in two or three years, when I’m taking my kids on business trips and showing them the world, we’re reaping the benefits.”
Real estate mogul Grant Cardone built a $500-million real estate empire and is the New York Times best-selling author of ‘Be Obsessed or Be Average’. In the same article, Cardone explains the value of sacrificing fun today for success and freedom tomorrow:
“Before 2008, I was playing golf three times a week. I got distracted and entitled, started to rest on my laurels and put my family at risk. I decided to master my work and money; if my golf game or social status suffered, so be it. It’s OK to sacrifice fun today for freedom tomorrow. I sacrifice every day, doing the things I might not want to do, but doing them anyway for a better future.”
The late author and poet Charles Bukowski wrote eloquently about sacrifice and living a life of meaning and purpose in the following poem:
“If you’re going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don’t even start. This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives and maybe even your mind. It could mean not eating for three or four days. It could mean freezing on a park bench. It could mean jail. It could mean derision. It could mean mockery-isolation. Isolation is the gift. All the others are a test of your endurance, of how much you really want to do it. And, you’ll do it, despite rejection and the worst odds. And it will be better than anything else you can imagine. If you’re going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It’s the only good fight there is.”
Listen to the mesmerizing voice of Tom O’Bedlam in the video below, as he recites Charles Bukowski’s poem:
I’ll bet there are stories in your life or family about sacrifice. About going all the way.
Such stories inspire us. They remind us that most worthwhile things never come easy. Blood, sweat, and tears are usually involved.
A moving sea between the shores of your souls
There are many things we sacrifice in life for the benefit of ourselves and our loved ones. Consider the following five sacrifices people make in pursuit of going all the way.
Everyone has the same 24 hours in a day. How we prioritize our time determines the success we will have. Exercise versus television. Study versus TikTok videos. What are you willing to sacrifice to gain more time for productive efforts?
Sometimes our sacrifices make our lives less secure. For example, going full-time as a writer or artist will likely result in irregular income. It’s easier to weather insecurity when it’s just you that is affected. It’s much harder to risk your security when you have a spouse and/or children depending on you. Sometimes the answer is a bit of creative juggling.
Your work or creative passions may compete with your relationships. If you smother your passion for a significant other, your neglected passion will haunt you. The best relationships respect the unique individuality of one another.
“But let there be spaces in your togetherness and let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love: let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.”
Best to disclose early on your dreams and ambitions, and find someone who can complement your passions but also pursue their own with your blessing.
Babies don’t care about your sleep. Ditto for work deadlines. Ask any doctor about his or her years of residency and the unrelenting sleep deprivation.
Yes, sleep is vital to good health. But sometimes we have to burn the candle to get to a place where we can sleep soundly. I’ll bet Leonardo da Vinci burned the candle many nights.
There’s a huge difference between needs and wants, but sometimes we get confused about this. Food, water, shelter, warmth, and income are all necessary to survival.
A BMW may be a fine car, but it’s not a necessity. Living within or below our means, and saying no to our desires, is how we go all the way towards success.
Are you prepared to go all the way? Are you willing to sacrifice for yourself, your loved ones, and your dreams?
Wisely manage your time, security, relationships, sleep, and desires. Find others who complement your life, not snuff out your dreams.
Make those worthwhile sacrifices. Go all the way.
It’s the only good fight there is.
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