Today’s quote is actually more on excerpt from a book I am reading called The Teaching of Buddha by Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai. This particular passage resonates with me a great deal at the moment because it is a truth that I am coming to realise more and more as I make some changes in my life and my outlook.
Once there was a wealthy but foolish man. When he saw a beautiful three-storied house of another man, he envied it and made up his mind to have one built just like it, thinking he was himself just as wealthy. He called a carpenter and ordered him to build it. The carpenter consented and immediately began to construct the foundation, the first story, the second story, and then the third story. The wealthy man noticed this with irritation and said – “I don’t want a foundation, or a first story, or a second story; I just want the beautiful third story. Build it quickly.”
A foolish man always thinks only of the results, and is impatient without the effort that is necessary to get good results. No good can be obtained without proper effort, just as there can be no third story without the foundation and the first and second stories.
– Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai, The Teaching if Buddha
For as long as I can remember I have considered myself to be an Entrepreneur, having these amazing ideas for businesses and wishing for the success of people like Robert Kiyosaki, Richard Branson and countless others. With each idea I had I would start off really enthusiastically and appeared to always be heading in the right direction quickly. I’d have energy and drive, getting up with the sun, going to bed late, working tirelessly on my idea in between. But after a few months my focus would stray, my enthusiasm would wane away to nothing and the whatever remnants of a viable business existed would disintegrate. I used to tell myself that the reason I stopped working on a particular idea was because I had a better idea come to me which would instantly start the cycle again.
What I really think would happen is that after a few months, my lifestyle and success looked nothing like that of my idols. I wasn’t driving around in a nice shiny car, money wasn’t pouring in, phones weren’t ringing, websites sat unvisited etc. And once I realised that an idea hadn’t delivered the results I was hoping for, the next idea kicked in with the same expectations and hopes. I wanted their success immediately but I didn’t want to put in the work on the foundations first. As the old saying goes ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’, neither are the successes that are paraded in front of us on TV, the press. It does take some serious hard work, you can’t just jump from idea to business. What’s required is the effort put in each day, to be present and fully aware of each step that you take in each moment – no matter how small or insignificant it may seem at the time. These seemingly insignificant steps compound up to give you the end result – your three-storied house.
For me, acknowledging this realisation has been a big step for me. This cycle explained above has been repeating in my life over and over again since I was 12; I am now 26. I still have hundreds of ‘cool’ ideas but I now write them down and store them away – I don’t instantly start working on each one any more in the hope of instant success. Instead I am spending a great deal of time working on my foundations, working on me, getting back in touch with my true self on a deeper level than my desires and my ideas. This way, when I am ready to move forward again and embrace my Entrepreneurial spirit in the pursuit of an outer purpose, I know that it will fully align with my inner purpose and not because of the illusory sense of success I have created from observing others.