Earning The Earned Life

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Getting to where you want to be requires a tremendous amount of time, effort, commitment, and focus. But after earning the life you want, do you get angry at the cost of living the life you desire, or would you feel grateful to your past self for the sacrifices made?
The question people have to ask themselves is this; are they willing to pay the price for the earned life? After all, earning your life is not a free ride.
Some time back at a business conference, the founder of a startup was asked how he could be productive at the business which was eating into a lot of his time.

His approach was simple. “I outsource all the mundane work. Housework? I hire a maid. Meals? I have them catered. Childcare? I pay my parents and in-laws to babysit them.”

“What if I cannot afford those?” a participant asked after raising her hand.
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Can you afford to lose the opportunity to live the life you want?” he replied.

This clarity into the drive required to living an earned life struck a chord with many present, including the both of us.
From our experience after decades of coaching, mentoring, and developing leaders around the world, people need to overcome three obstacles to get going.



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The first is loss aversion. That is the instinct to avoid a loss rather than going for the equivalent or higher gain.

We sometimes experience this when leaders question the coaching process. They view the time and effort taken for leadership development as a loss.

We focus on the gains and potential wins to address their concerns. They get to see how far they have come in their journey. We review their accomplishments, show data on improvements, and provide encouragement and motivation.

Another obstacle people face is the desire for instant gratification. They do not see the coming rewards, Instead, they question why the sacrifices made today are not bringing in immediate results. You may be familiar with friends and family members who would rather spend US20,000 today, instead of investing the money for a potentially higher pay-out in the future.

Some governments permitted people to take out their savings from the social security system to tide them over at the height of the pandemic a few years ago. Many drew down their savings to survive.

Even so, there were others who made withdrawals despite not needing the money. If they had left US20,000 in the system at an annual compounded interest of 5%, they would have US53,000 in 20 years.

Often, this challenge is caused by the lack of vision. Turn the situation around by supporting people to switch their focus from the now to the future. Coach leaders to keep their eyes on the future gratitude they feel towards their former self who sacrificed for their interest is one approach to get over this hump.

A third obstacle is how people often view the world as a zero-sum game. “If I do this, then I cannot do that” is how many think about the world.

Now, such a viewpoint is not totally wrong. However, earning an earned life does come with opportunity costs. But getting too fixated on the opportunity costs means stalling on the opportunities to accelerate growth for results.

In most cases, choosing the harder route means other options are no longer there. The sooner leaders accept the reality of it, the more comfortable they become about doing what it takes.

We touched upon three obstacles people face to living an earned life. In recent years, there seems to be a fourth one. It is about leaving their comfort zone.

Now, nobody likes confrontation, not even us. Nonetheless, if things are not going well and business results are down, then we have to bite the bullet and do what it takes to turn things around.

We may not enjoy confronting what needs to be done, but we would not regret doing it either. The regret of inaction is worse than the feeling of confrontation.

Now, get out there and start earning your life.