Everything you ever wanted is here right in front of you

Ambitious people find success by being content, but not satisfied.

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Ambitious people find success by being content, but not satisfied.

Consider the classic tale of The Greatest Showman: A family man loses his job, starts a business, becomes successful, lets it get to his head, loses everything, and realizes that he already had everything that he wanted.

PT Barnum spends his entire career fueled by a motivation to be richer and more successful than his wife’s father.

This obsession drives Barnum beyond the point of success to his own demise. And only after watching the film for the 4th time did I realize what the message of this film really is. Consider the last 3 lines of the movie, which come from the song “The Greatest Showman (reprise)”:

“It’s everything you ever want.
It’s everything you ever need.
And it’s here right in front of you.”

This song is sung twice in the film. At the beginning, the song is about the Circus. Barnum builds the Circus to give people joy, laughter, and a glimpse of the impossible. But at the end, Barnum sits in an auditorium watching his daughters in the ballet, with his wife right next to him.

His journey to success changes from an external journey to an internal one. And he realizes that everything he’s ever wanted is right there (and always has been).

This story arch is more common than you think. It's the boy's story in The Alchemist. Seeking great treasure, this boy journeys far and wide, spends years away from the woman he loves, and eventually learns that the treasure he seeks is within him. He already has it.

This revelation shakes me to the core. And given the popularity of The Alchemist, I reckon it has the same effect on a lot of people.

While I am tempted to blindly chase status, success, money... it is sobering to realize that I already have the things that are most fulfilling to me.

I have a wife, a family that loves me. I have physical and mental health. I have friends. And I have an enriching pursuit, a mission in my work.

But I am ambitious. I am driven to achieve, conquer, to turn my vision into reality, as are most entrepreneurs. How do you balance these two? How do you enjoy the present while striving to improve the future?

Entrepreneurs are especially prone to keeping up with the Joneses. Not always with material possessions, but often with audience size, engagement, and accomplishments that other entrepreneurs have achieved.

Many social media entrepreneurs live vicariously through the successes of their gurus, never building anything real for themselves.

Just like PT Barnum in The Greatest Showman, we are blind to the blessings that we already have because we are obsessed with what others have that we do not.

There are two lessons to be learned here.

First, an observation. Most stories are just a retelling of the same themes. Don’t look for great stories, look for great morals. Your ability to turn the moral of the story into a lesson for your audience will dictate your success as a content creator.

Second, a more philosophical point. Rumor has it that Kurt Vonnegut once attended a lavish party with some friends at a wealthy gentleman’s estate. Upon entering into the home, seeing wait staff prance around, rare artifacts and extravagant decorations adorning the hallways, his friend exclaimed, “wow, this guy has everything.”

Always one step ahead, Vonnegut replied, “Yes, and I have something he’ll never have. Enough.”

My wish for you is that you’ll be content, but not satisfied.

You’ll realize how precious the moments are with your significant other. You’ll focus on time with your family. You’ll relish in the energy and clarity of mind that you have. But you’ll keep pushing forward. You’ll strive to improve. You’ll create better content. You’ll lead your audience forward. And you’ll achieve great things.

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More insights from the Greatest Showman.

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