The Path to Success image

The Path to Success

The power of discovering why you exist and what you really should be doing

I had a classmate from the Merchant Marine Academy who, like me, knew he didn't want to spend his life at sea. Rather than take a job with a ship after graduation, he went to law school. After three years, he graduated and took a job as a lawyer with a firm in private practice.

He was miserable. Though he was very successful in his profession, he was very unhappy with his work. Although he hated being a lawyer, he felt he had no other option than to keep at it because he had a family, kids, a mortgage, and bills to pay.

When I met him years later at a class reunion in New York, his bitterness was apparent in the way he talked. "All I do is sweep up behind rich guys like you. They pay me nothing. I hate what I do and who I work for."

"Why don't you do something else?" I asked.

"I can't afford to stop working," he said. "My first child is entering college."

Unfortunately, this man died of a heart attack before his daughter graduated. He had made a lot of money via his professional training, but he was emotionally angry, spiritually dead, and soon his body followed.

Are you crushed?

In my new book, Why "A" Students Work for "C" Students, I talk about how every child has a genius in them—the one thing that lights up their life, motivates them, feeds their dreams, and challenges them. Unfortunately, school often does not recognize the genius in our children. And even more, school may even crush a child's genius.

This is because our educational system prescribes to one way of doing things. Our kids are told to go to school and get a good job. The problem, of course, is that they don't know what they really want to do and are called to do yet when they hear this, so our kids chase down paths that are prescribed for them, like doctor, lawyer, teacher, and more—jobs in the E or S quadrant of the CASHFLOW quadrant.

As they grow older, they are trapped in the rat race. Because they go to college and take on debt, they have to get a high paying job. Soon they buy a house, and because of that debt, they must keep working. Then other expenses like kids, health care, and more paint them into a corner. Before you know it, the dreams of youth are gone, replaced with what for some is a miserable reality of work that is not soul-giving.

The school system does not help us discover our genius. And in the process of chasing other peoples' dreams for our lives, we often lose our genius. When that happens, we are crushed...and we become like my lawyer friend who made a lot of money but was miserable and died young from the stress of his work and responsibilities.

We must find our own path

In my book, The CASHFLOW Quadrant, I talked about the important of finding our own path. It's not easy. We can often get lost in the process, and it's not always simple to find our way back. But finding our path—releasing our inner genius, and the genius of our children—is essential to a happy life.

How about you? How is your path going? Do you find yourself making these types of statements?

- "I love what I do, but I wish I could make more money."
- "I can't wait for the weekend."
- "I want to do my own thing."
- "Is it quitting time yet?"

If so, it may be time to find a new path. To discover your life's purpose, why you were given this gift called life, and what the gift is that you should give back to the world.

If you feel you are not on the right path, I encourage you to search your heart and find your path in life. If you are a parent, I also encourage you to spend as much time, resources, energy, and talent to help your child discover his or her path and genius. Part of your path is to help your child discover his or her own. And this is something they will not discover in the school system. They need you to help them.

As the Vietnamese monk, Thich Naht Hahn, says, "The path is the goal." Today, recommit yourself to discovering your own path and helping your children do the same. It will be one of the best investments you've ever made.

To help you on your journey of discovery join our free, financial education community here.

Original publish date: April 16, 2013