Tomorrow is tax day in the United States.
For many years, Kim and I looked forward to a tax refund, dreaming about how big it might be and what we’d do with the windfall.
It felt like a little present, which is weird, because if you buy a sandwich with a twenty dollar bill and the clerk gives you fifteen dollars back, you don’t thank him for the gift. Of course, it was really our money all along. We simply paid more taxes than we were required to over the course of the year, and the government sent us back the change.
In the early days, the main reason we got such a good refund is because our business was not very successful. And by not very successful, I mean it lost money, which is the exact opposite of what you want your business to do.
The interesting thing is what happened in my mind when the business finally started to thrive. The refunds got smaller, then stopped. We started having to pay more taxes. Because I liked the feeling of receiving a check rather than having to write one, I viewed the one I wrote to pay taxes in a negative light.
I almost fell into the trap of sabotaging my success by spending brain cells trying to figure out how to get those refund checks flowing again. I lost sight of the fact that the bigger the tax bill, the more successful the business was.
Now, you may not run a business, but I wonder if you may be sabotaging your success in other similar ways…
Have you ever felt guilty that you make more money than your parents ever did, who worked really hard for every penny they earned?
Have you ever shied away from standing up for what’s right for fear of peers calling you a goody two-shoes?
Have you stopped trying to improve yourself because you don’t want your friends to accuse you of thinking you’re better than them?
Have you ever turned down a promotion because you didn’t want things to get weird with your colleagues?
Have you been hesitant to pursue excellence because you’re worried about being accused of getting too big for your britches?
Have you stopped taking risks for fear of the embarrassment that might come if you failed?
Accomplishing nothing particularly remarkable is a good way to ensure no one remarks about you. But if you want to do work that matters, make the world better, and experience the wonderful feeling that comes from accomplishing something worthwhile, you can expect criticism.
“No one has ever built a statue to a critic, it’s true. On the other hand, it’s only the people with statues that get pooped on by birds flying by.” –Seth Godin
When people say terrible things about you behind your back or write mean things about you online, it’s because they are jealous. Of your success.
Louder (unfounded) criticism, and bigger (more public) failures are the tax of being successful.
Sure, you can put yourself in a position where you don’t have to pay them.
But don’t fool yourself into thinking that’s anything resembling success.