My goodness, don't you remember when you went first to school?
... and you went to kindergarten... and in kindergarten the idea was to push along so that you could get into first grade... and then push along so that you could get into second grade and third grade and so on, going up and up...
... and then you went into high school and this was a great transition in life... and now the pressure is being put on; you must get ahead, you must go up the grades and finally be good enough to get to college... and then when you get to college you're still going step by step, step by step... up to the great moment until you're ready to go out into the world...
... and then when you get out into this famous world comes the struggle for success in profession or business... and again there seems to be a ladder before you; something for which you are reaching all the time... and then... suddenly... when you're about forty or forty-five years old in the middle of life, you wake up one day and say 'Huh? I've arrived... and by Joe I feel pretty much the same as I've always felt... in fact I'm not so sure that I don't feel a little bit cheated...'
Human beings are curious creatures. We're always running on a treadmill with a fishing line dangling in front of us. On the end of the fishing line, in front of our eyes, but just out of reach, is the word success, in neon lights. We're attracted to it, like a moth to a flame, and so we run... we run and we run, but still we just can't get to it.
The desire for success is not something we're born with. It is something we're taught. It begins in early childhood when we strive to get a good report card in our first grade of school. We're told that if we don't progress to the next level we'll be a failure. So we push ourselves hard towards success. We force ourselves to be better because we're motivated by fear. We fear what our parents will say or do to us if we let them down. We fear what our teachers will think of us if we don't perform. We fear what our classmates will think of us if we don't progress like everyone else... but worst of all, we fear what we might think of ourselves if we fail.
That fear never goes away all through school. Instead it gets worse. The homework starts piling up... then the tests... then the exams... until we reach our final year of high school; the moment we'd been training for our whole lives up until this point. We're told that our results in this final year of schooling will either make or break our adult lives. Somehow, we get through. We get an offer to go to university or college and the pressure begins mounting again. 'If I don't make it through now, I'll never get a full-time job', we tell ourselves. So we surround ourselves with textbooks and academic literature, drinking coffee to stay awake, desperately reaching for the light at the end of the tunnel.
We graduate and show off our fancy black gowns to our parents. We made it! Now it's time to get employed - get that career we always wanted. We start off at the bottom of the chain of command with a salary to match. 'I better buy a nicer car so I fit in at work,' we tell ourselves. So we buy the car, and in the blink of an eye, much of our hard-earned money is gone. Then there's all of a sudden this pressure to settle down in a house and raise a family. So we strive for that promotion. We settle down with someone in a house with a mortgage and have children. Then we're so focused on work that we lose sight of what really matters, but we have to work in order to provide for the family. So we work hard and exhaust ourselves. By the time our kids want to play with us, we're too tired.
Then our kids grow up and they leave school too. They graduate from college and begin their own career... and we reach retirement age and call it quits. We tell our kids we're ready to