When my daughter was around five years old, she was watching me pack for a long road trip, and she asked: “Daddy, why do you have to travel so much?”
“This is how I take care of our family,” I told her.
“I travel for my work so I can take care of you and Mum and put food on the table.”
She was quiet for a moment. And then she said the words that stung me harder than anything that has ever been said to me: “If I eat less, can you stay home more?”
I had to look away so she didn’t see her dad in tears. It took me nearly 13 years before I could tell that story without losing it, and even as I write this … well, it still hits me hard.
I suppose in a movie the dad would have this thunderbolt moment and decide to never travel again. He’d never miss a school play or a volleyball game, he’d never have to call home from across the world to say “Happy Birthday!” to his little girl.
I kept packing.
Of course, I hugged her and told her I’d be back soon, and we talked about the great things we’d do when I returned. And we did them all.
But on that day, I kept packing.
How do you explain to a five-year-old, or to anyone for that matter, that they’re the most important thing in your life, but for right now, this other thing over here is all you can think about?
If you’ve never felt that sick feeling of disappointing someone because you’re consumed with your own goals, you’ve never experienced the intoxication of Winning.
Winning wants all of you. It doesn’t recognise love or sentiment, it doesn’t care about your other responsibilities and commitments. It demands obsession, or it will find someone else to consume.
Being there when they need me, and even when they don’t know they need me. Asking them questions no one else will ask. Working as hard as they do, and sometimes harder.
And in my line of work, that means being where they are, anywhere in the world. It means studying everything they do, how they move, how they feel. It means obsessing about how to be .0001 per cent better.
It means having to sometimes disappoint a five-year-old.
It hurts me to write that, but we’re about to talk about the sacrifices and choices we make when we’re chasing our goals, and I’d be lying if I told you it was easy. It’s not.
I have no problem admitting my work takes most of my time and focus and mental energy. This is who I am. It allows me to win and helps my clients win as well. It’s up to you to determine how much you’re willing to give up to catch what you’re chasing.
Your obsession might be your business. Or your sport. Or your talent. Maybe you’re focused on losing weight or building your body, or completing your education, or managing your family. Whatever you’re trying to accomplish, you know you can’t do it without laser focus and total commitment to the end result.
Is there a price to pay for that? Yes. Absolutely.
When you’re driven to achieve something that requires all your time, all your focus, all your heart … it’s extremely difficult to create meaningful space for anything else. You can’t achieve balance in all areas of your life.
I know this topic makes many people uneasy, because very few are willing to admit to that degree of obsession.
They feel selfish. Neglectful. Guilty about their own choices. They start questioning their priorities. But the more you hide it, the more you pretend you can handle everything and “have it all,” the less chance you have of having anything at all.
So when you tell me you want to be relentless, you want to win, you’re obsessed with success, but you also want more balance in your life, I have to give you the truth: There is no balance for those who are committed to Winning.
Stop fighting it, stop feeling guilty about it, stop looking for it. And start creating a life on your own terms that works for you and your goals so everyone can win.