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Suck up every moment of life's detours

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About DJC

The older I get, the less I know and the more inquisitive I get.

Unfortunately, despite a lifelong search, most of the answers elude me. That said, I love to ask the questions and fuel the debates that will ultimately lead us all to a better understanding of the big issues in life, the universe and everything.

They say that we spend 98% of our lives in our head. I for one would like to use that time as effectively as possible.

I have paid a heavy price in my quest for success. This is what I've learned.

Success is as hard to define as it is elusive. So many people strive for it without really knowing what it is.

Get off those railway tracks occasionally.

Get off those railway tracks occasionally. Picture: Shutterstock

Many devote their lives to the quest for success, thinking it is one thing -- such as financial gain -- only to discover that they are wrong when it is too late.

The history of human kind is littered with sad stories about people who, in the quest for financial gain,  lose their families and so many of the other things which, later in life, they come to associate with success -- such as happiness and peace of mind.

I am no philosopher. I do not have a definition of success that covers all the bases or will be universally accepted. I suspect there isn't one.

What I do know is that one of the biggest side effects of the quest for success is that it leads many to behave in a linear fashion, living their lives on railway tracks.

Most of the great pontificators who are meant to inspire us to succeed, like Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos and Jack Welch, or the high-profile trainers like Zig Ziglar and Jordan Belfort, have told us that success required a specific target, a clear line of sight and relentless determination not to stray off course. They suggest that nothing should be allowed to stand in the way.

While I am a vehement advocate for having a destination in mind, I believe that having too firm a target and being too locked onto those railway tracks is an unlikely recipe for success or happiness.

I generally work on a Sunday afternoon. But recently, I decided to spend Sunday afternoon having lunch with a friend. This was an uncommon detour from my journey.

I decided to book a restaurant well out of the city, thinking my friend might enjoy it. This was another detour for a man who frequents inner-city venues. On the way home, my friend asked if we could take the long way home and avoid the monotonous drive along the freeway. Again, a detour.

It occurred to me this morning just how much I enjoyed this afternoon. One day many years hence, if I live that long, my friend and I will probably reminisce about this afternoon spent together enjoying the fabulous restaurant, the great food and conversation, and even the jacaranda blossoms when I decided to drive the long, long way home.

Sunday I will again spend at the office. I will enjoy it because I love my work and what we are trying to build, but a year from now I won't remember any of these working Sundays. Whether I regret them or not is yet to be seen, but I certainly will not remember them.

It occurs to me that it is the detours that we take in life that often deliver the richest experiences and leave us with the richest memories. It's the detours in life that make life most worthwhile They are unexpected and rewarding for that reason alone. They are also rare and memorable for that same reason.

I have paid a heavy price in my quest for success.

The biggest was when I realised that my definition of success was, for me at least, the wrong one.

Fortunately, I learned this early enough to recover some ground, repair some of the damage, secure some measure of redemption and ensure that once in a while along the way, I allow myself to enjoy a detour.

Set yourself mighty goals. Work hard to achieve those goals, and do so with focus and discipline.

But, at the same time, allow for a few detours -- and when you take them, suck up every second.

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