Paying the Price for Success

​Achieving any success has always come with a price. My wife, a wonderful piano player, spent her whole life practicing and developing her skills. Our first major purchase together was a beautiful piano, and nothing we have ever owned has gotten more use. I used to lay on the floor listening for hours as she played, and sometimes I would foolishly say, “I wish I could play the piano.” I say “foolishly” because of the irony that she was the one practicing while I was laying on the floor. I would then remember my mom trying to get me to practice when I was young, but the price of learning was too much for me. It was Emerson who said, “Everything has its price - and if that price is not paid, not that thing but something else is obtained.” I wanted to play the piano, but I was hoping to obtain the skill at a discount. The level of my piano skills today prove that Emerson was right.

Almost every day I hear people say things like, “I wish I was rich. I wish I could retire early. I wish I could live debt free like my neighbor.” Comments like this make me want to point out the obvious that if they really wished such things, then they would be willing to pay the price required to obtain them. The price for financial success is well known. It can be taught to almost anyone. But my experience has been that once the price is known, a great many decide they are not willing to pay it.

I have had many people say to me, “I wish I would have bought Apple, Google, Amazon, Tesla etc., when they were selling for a couple of dollars.” To which I respond, “Really? Do you have any idea the long years of uncertainty and even fear the early investors in those companies endured? Are you aware of the emotional and financial price those people paid? Are you really willing to pay that price?”

What price will future investors need to pay for success? Essentially the same that past investors have paid. They will be the ones who can look at this messed-up world we live in, filled with fear, wars, dishonesty, sickness, political divides, social unrest and a thousand other worries, and still find the good in it. Amidst that good they will see possibility and from possibility, hope and opportunity. Then will come their biggest challenge. Seeing the potential good they will need to exercise faith, courage and discipline to set aside part of their resources and invest in it. That is the price they will pay. That is the price many are not willing to pay.

Here lies the painful catch that Emerson wisely pointed out. If you are not willing to pay the price for financial success, then you will obtain something else. And that, to me, comes at an even greater price. Says the guy, regretfully, who still wishes he could play the piano.