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What Price Will You Pay For Your Success?

What do you expect to be the cost of your success?

by Donnalynn Riley

So many times we hear successful people interviewed over and over again. And the focus of those conversations often is "What did it cost you to get where you are?" Right? Like there's a balance. Like there's something good happened, therefore something bad happened. 

And this is sort of the way that we're taught to look at life is, "What is the good?" And if we're going to talk about the good, then we have to talk about the bad and what is the bad. And if we're going to talk about the bad, we have to talk about the good. So this balance that we think we're supposed to talk about, we call it being objective and it kind of gets in our way. And sometimes it's true and sometimes it's not true. 

So when it comes to what does it cost, the price of success, my experience and many people I know whose experience has been the same, our experience has been that the price is very, very different than people think it is.  

So when you are in that moment where you wish you could get where you want to go, you say to yourself, "Well, in order to do that I would have to..." and the list is quite long, right? Or maybe it's just one thing that you really don't want to do. The list is something like, "I would have to not spend time with my family." "I would have to be willing to miss holidays." "I would have to put that project or that work at the top of my priority already list at the detriment to everything else in my life."

There would be a cost and that has not been my experience in the least. My experience has been that if you can even put it in the category of cost, the cost for me has been joy. The cost for me has been pleasure. 

The cost for me has been inspiration. 

There's one story that just pops up in my mind over and over again. When I think about this exact thing, this sort of, how do, how does the world look at success and why should we feel like there's a cost to that? It's really -- it's really a great way to give you an excuse. 

And I don't mean that mainly, but we all have to face our demons and sometimes we choose to face them and sometimes we don't. When we don't, then it's really easy to talk about what the cost would be if we did the thing that we're afraid to do. So getting to that core moment of what is it that I'm afraid to do is important. But we'll obviously you can delve deeper and deeper and deeper into that. At another time.

The story that always pops to mind for me is when I was, I was very young and one of the reasons I love to tell the stories of being very young is first of all, I'm not anymore. And so it's kinda fun to look at those times. And as time goes on, people tell you that it gets hot. People tell you over and over again. Life is hard. Life is hard, life is hard. 

And so it's easy to believe them after you hear that song over and over and over. But in the beginning of my life, there was no having to ignore people, right? It was just, I just was able to tap in without there being a lot of noise in my head. And now I have learned how to tap in without there being a lot of noise in my head. 

Let's see. So I was 19. I was 19. And I had said when I was 16 or so I'm going to work on Broadway. And then I went to school in North Carolina, which sort of didn't make any sense, right? Like, how is, how are those two things connected? I didn't do anything. I didn't reach out to anyone in that moment. I really let that come to me. And it came very quickly. And so there I was working on Broadway as the man that I was working for is an incredible designer. I was so lucky to be able to do that. 

But maybe not luck. So my brother is 10 years older than I am and my brother was filled with wisdom as all older brothers are and should be. And he said to me, he was working on Broadway. He had a job down the block and he said to me, "Let's go to lunch." And I was like, "Yeah, this is fun. Let's go to lunch." I'll never forget what he said to me at that lunch. He said, "You think that this is so easy, you don't know that people work decades of their lives to get here." And I can remember thinking, well, that is so silly because they could get here in the same two years it took me.

That doesn't go over well with your older brother when you're 19, by the way. But it is true. It is still true for me. It was true for me in that moment. And it has been true for me over and over and over again. It is the same thing when I started a company, many years later, many skills learned later. I started a company that was really a sort of marketing company, kind of a business company, and it had a very specific -- but the focus is unimportant at this moment. 

And I started the company and people were like, "Oh, you live in the middle of nowhere" because at that moment I did. "And you know, you're not going to be able to get clients and how's it going to work out for you?" And inside the two years, which I love, the two year mark -- apparently inside two years I had six employees and we were working with companies all over the country.

And so, and in fact it, you know, even though I don't ever think of it as part of the same story, we sold the company for a really good profit and we rolled some of our employees into the new venture and you know, it was, it all was like win, win, win, win, win, win, win, win. 

And so how those things happen people think it's because I worked late or people want to hear, it's because I knew the right people on Broadway. I didn't know the right people on Broadway. I didn't know anybody on Broadway. I did what felt like the next right thing. And when I was completely tuned in and making those actions, I was able to be standing next to a good person who knew the next person, who knew the next person who got me there. And so you have to ask yourself, how long do you want to take and what do you want it to cost you?

Because my experience is that the cost is in the letting go of fear. The cost is in the letting go of sort of the tribal mentality. My immediate environment has a certain mentality that says that's too risky or it'll never work. And those are the costs. The costs are in the letting go process and not in the family time, which I still get to enjoy. And not in the holidays that I've missed. I'm not missing them. They're here. You can actually have it, but you do have to decide what you're willing to let go of and how much belief and good feeling you'll allow into your life. 

So that's it for now. I've talked a lot now -- that's it for now, but really let me know what are you willing to pay? What are you willing to have as the cost for what you want? Is your cost going to be inspiration or is it going to be your physical health declining? 

So make some choices and let me know. Talk to you soon.

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