You are one of those hard-core, hard-driving, workaholic entrepreneurs, right? You’re a winner! I get it. I would have applauded you about five years ago. But today, I feel sorry for you.
I was that guy. Years ago, I was dead set on winning the entrepreneurial game. I wore the “workaholic” title like a badge of courage. But on a very nondescript day, I had an epiphany: On the day I die, I won’t be saying I should have worked harder. I will be asking myself if I lived life to the fullest, if I fulfilled my life’s purpose. I will wonder whether I loved my family and friends unabashedly.
Perhaps it was Sam Walton who helped me to see the error of my ways. I idolized the guy for his business success. Today, I aspire to learn from his final words spoken on his deathbed.
Sam Walton, by any measure, is the ultimate entrepreneur. He took a small general store, revolutionized the retail industry and built his business into the world mega-corporation that Walmart is today.
During his lifetime, he was in regular contention to be the richest man in the world. He made a five-and-dime into a world power. Yet, what he said on his deathbed should give us all pause.
His final words were, “I blew it.”
How could that be? He was a full-time, always-there businessman.
But when it came to the rest of his life, he was not so dedicated, not so “there” as a father, husband and friend. He had the wealthiest pockets, but he judged his soul to be poor. In the last minutes of his life, he realized where he had failed.
I wonder if the same would be true for a man or woman who dies after living the richest life with family and friends, yet didn’t have a business success story. I suspect that they won’t say, “I blew it.”
Here’s the hard truth: You and I are on our deathbed. I hope I’m being figurative here, not literal. I hope you and I still have time. But I can guarantee that we all will die. And it will happen sooner than we want, if we don’t start working on the life part more than the entrepreneurial part.
Sam Walton left us with the greatest entrepreneurial lesson: It’s better to have an incomplete business life than an incomplete human life. Keep that in mind as you work on your business. It may be important to you to have business success and reach goals, but it is more important to build loving and meaningful relationships.
On your deathbed, it is the people you loved built relationships with that will be there, providing you comfort—not a business or a bank account. In the end, they are what will matter, not how big your company is, or how much money you have in the bank.