In honor of Father's Day this past Sunday, I am dedicating this post to my Dad's Dad. My late Grandfather. He passed away when I was too young to know better. I was told we were close - that we shared a special bond during my early years / his late years.
Almost all of my memories with my Grandfather have escaped me, but I vividly remember one quote. "Don't let your wants get the best of you."
Whenever I asked for a treat - don't let your wants get the best of you.
If I pleaded for a shiny, new toy - don't let your wants get the best of you.
Would you like dessert with your meal, asked the waiter - OF COURSE, I would excitedly respond. Can you guess what my Grandfather would say?
Well, not exactly for the last example... My Grandfather never skipped dessert. But you get the point.
To say his quote ticked me off as a kid would have been an extreme understatement. At that age, when I wanted something, I wanted it now. Right now.
The funny thing about childhood is you can kick, scream, and cry long enough to usually get what you want. The funny thing about adulthood is it's no longer acceptable to kick, scream, and cry to get what you want (although some people still do this), but we don't even need to waste our time with the struggle. Companies like Amazon have thrived by filling this void. Food delivery apps, the explosive growth within e-commerce, etc., etc. If you want something, you can literally have it now.
Recently, I came across a great quote from Socrates, repurposed into a visual by Jack Butcher at visualizevalue.
Don't let your wants get the best of you.
It feels good to buy something you want. But there will always be the next thing you want - oftentimes within a very short time between purchasing the first something you wanted. The cycle will go on forever if we let it. There's a fancy scientific phrase for this process. The Hedonic Treadmill.
The following excerpt is one of my favorite stories which touches on this modern dilemma in a beautiful, thought-provoking way. Credit to Tim Ferriss, "4 Hour Workweek"
The Islander & The Businessman
An American businessman took a vacation to a small Spanish island village on doctor’s orders. Unable to sleep after an urgent phone call from the office the first morning, he walked out to the pier to clear his head. A small boat with just one fisherman had docked, and inside the boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the islander on the quality of his fish. “How long did it take you to catch them?” the American asked.
“Only a little while,” the islander replied in surprisingly good English. “Why don’t you stay out longer and catch more fish?” the American then asked.
“I have enough to support my family and give a few to friends,” the islander said as he unloaded them into a basket.
“But … What do you do with the rest of your time?”
The islander looked up and smiled. “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take a siesta with my wife, Julia, and stroll into the village each evening, where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life, señor.”
The American laughed and stood tall. “Sir, I’m a Harvard M.B.A. and can help you. You should spend more time fishing, and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. In no time, you could buy several boats with the increased haul. Eventually, you would have a fleet of fishing boats.”
He continued, “Instead of selling your catch to a middleman, you would sell directly to the consumers, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing, and distribution. You would need to leave this small island fishing village, of course, and move to a larger city, then to Los Angeles, and eventually New York City, where you could run your expanding enterprise with proper management.”
The fisherman asked, “But, señor, how long will all this take?”
To which the American replied, “15–20 years. 25 tops.”
“But what then, señor?”
The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right, you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich. You would make millions.”
“Millions, señor? Then what?”
“Then you would retire and move to a small island fishing village, where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take a siesta with your wife, and stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos …”
Don't let your wants get the best of you.
Amen - Love you, Grandaddy.
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