It only stands to reason that if you have more than one child, one eventually has to be the most successful and another the least successful, correct? There has to be a metric that if we were really and truly analytical, could measure this, right?
I could literally write 50 articles based on that one question, but to save us all some time, let me tell you a story. I call it,
“The Story of the Big Exec. and his Modern Day Hippie Kid Brother.”
I think the favorite aspect I have in my job, is the people I get to meet.
As a sports based chiropractor, I get to meet people from all walks of life. All sorts of income, all sorts of employment and it’s just fun to get to know these people. In the course of doing so, I ask them questions that might give me some hidden insight into life or if nothing else, just a glimpse into a different path.
I’ve worked on professional athletes, celebrities, plumbers, teachers, cops, pilots, models, cross fitters, kids, doctors, other chiropractors.. basically you name it and I have worked with them. Obviously, not on a first visit but as I get to know them, I have asked them questions about income, time, travel, lifestyle and especially happiness. (See my “Rule of 7s” article for more happiness tips).
Today I had a unique case with a client I hadn’t met before. He was a guy about my age but had kids early in life and was telling me, as we were comparing stories about our kids, about where his kids were in life.
His oldest was a 33-year-old executive that through the course of some fantastic business decisions and great connections was a “high up” in his company. At just 33 years old, he could retire if he wanted to and comfortably live for the rest of his life. He didn’t want to, however. He was extremely driven and wanted to continue to create a dynasty in his business and cement power through different boards and committees and a lasting legacy through charity and philanthropy.
In all aspects, when compared to most Americans, be it a celebrity or a pro athlete, this guy was successful. Extremely successful. He not only was a member of one of the most prestigious country clubs in the country he was also on the board as the youngest board member. Ever. The restaurants that he took his family to were often packed with celebrities and the car he drove wasn’t yet available at dealerships.
In a stark contrast, his youngest son was what the dad referred to as a “modern-day hippie.” He decided halfway through college that it wasn’t his thing, so he packed up his bags and moved to Montana. There he became a ski instructor and tended bar. When the winter snow was all gone for the season he would pack out to Costa Rica and do the same summer job only instead of ski patrol and instructing he was working the surf vibe.
He also made great money. Unconventional work, true. It’s not what his high school counselor suggested as a “career” but surprisingly good income. OK, not “Executive in a Fortune 500 company” money but good money. He was able to travel around and have a lot of nice things. He didn’t have a lot of expenses because the places that he tended to live were on the ski hill or on the beach and were typically smaller “shack type” housing, perfect for his employment. The “gear” that he owned was high-end. So, he typically didn’t have a lot of money in the bank. But he had the same gear as his rich brother, maybe more so. The car that he drove wasn’t the coolest or newest. It was just a pick-up with a topper where he could throw all his stuff in the back. Nice, but more importantly, functional.
“That’s crazy.” I told him, “Two completely different kids huh?”
“No.” he said, “That’s what’s so cool. They are incredibly similar. They are both ultra-successful, driven, and they both do a fantastic job at what they both put their heads to. Both have moved up their respective ladders and career choice much faster than what would be expected from young adults their age.”
One is a millionaire and honestly, could retire right now if he wanted to. The other lives a dream life, goes where he wants to go and does what he wants to do. He doesn’t sit around and smoke joints all day and listen to crappy music, he just prefers ‘The Nomad lifestyle’.
But he works man! He’s not a slacker in any regards.
“In many aspects, he doesn’t have a pot to piss in..financially speaking. But he gets a giant kick out of helping other people sample this lifestyle when on the ski hill or in the surf or even something as simple as picking a papaya off a tree. They are both very true to themselves and good kids. I’m proud of both of them.”
As a parent, I love the story. I am very happy for a man that has two successful kids and that has the perspective to realize that although completely different, they are both completely successful in their own right. I can only hope and pray that my kids are true to themselves and follow their own paths like this.
I would hope that my kids at 30 years old don’t have a set definition of success, but feel it nonetheless.
That would make me feel like a successful parent.
The idea is, “There is no metric for success.” or maybe better put by Mark Manson, “Don’t let anyone define what success is for you.”
My client finished with one last statement that has resonated with me ever since.
“You know Chad, I do have one last thing I think I should tell you. Because one brother, although successful and happy is incredibly jealous of the other one.”
“I talk to my kids on the phone all the time. One brother often says that despite being happy and having all of the things he always wanted in life, he thinks about his brother all the time. He thinks about all the great stuff he has and all the great times he gets to have as well as all the fun things he gets to do in his life because of his position.”
He continued, “Yep, the older brother is extremely jealous of the younger one’s time and job. Despite having all the money that he would ever hope to achieve he can’t go surfing whenever he wants to. He can’t go skiing whenever he wants to. He’s stuck in an office most of the day dealing with a bunch of people in the same life position that he is in. His life lacks variety. He has all this stuff, but it’s just stuff. He doesn’t resent it. He just tells me he thinks his younger brother is more successful.”
He tells me, “I work my ass off to take the vacation that my brother lives.”