The Price of Success and Achievement

I’ve been fascinated with the lives of people who have achieved significant success and made a big impact in the world. I’ve read Walter Isaacson’s biography of Elon Musk and Steve Jobs.

While the author tries to present a full view of these famous person’s lives, I was still left in awe at the magnitude of what they have achieved.

Elon Musk has introduced significant innovations in online payment systems, in electric cars, in solar power, in the race for reusable space rockets. Steve Jobs also innovated many different industries – computers, animated movies, the iPhone, and the iPad.

As a person of faith, I have also read about the life of John Wesley, the founder of Methodism. How he established a movement in the 1700s that some analysts say prevented civil unrest in England; and this movement continued and grew into the global denomination that it is now.

There is always a price for achieving huge success and creating big impact.

John Wesley’s marriage wasn’t a happy one. He spent more time with his horse than with his wife! He preached more than 40,000 sermons over his lifetime and traveled more than 250,000 miles on horseback! This certainly added an important nuance to how this man of God lived his life.

Steve Jobs’ Regret

Earlier this year, I read Small Fry, a memoir written by Lisa Brennan-Jobs, the daughter of Steve Jobs. Hers is a tumultuous childhood. Her father refused to acknowledge her at first, but eventually invited her to live with him and his family.

Although, they had some poignant and memorable moments together, Steve Jobs was mean to her. Many of those painful incidents were actually abusive!

In the end Lisa Brennan-Jobs left the home of Steve Jobs to go to Harvard University. Maybe out of spite, Steve Jobs didn’t pay for her college, the neighbors did!

Steve Jobs died of liver cancer in 2011. But before he died, Lisa Brennan-Jobs shared the story of how Steve apologized to her:

“… it’s not okay. I didn’t spend enough time with you,” [Steve Jobs] said. “I should have spent the time. Now it’s too late….”

“He looked into my eyes and teared up. “I owe you one, I owe you one,” [Steve Jobs] said, crying, when I went to visit him in between his naps. What I wanted, what I felt owed, was some clear place in the hierarchy of those he loved….

“I want to say something: You were not to blame.” [Steve Jobs] started to cry. “If only we’d had a manual. If only I’d been wiser. But you were not to blame. I want you to know, you were not to blame for any of it.” He’d waited to apologize until there was hardly anything left of him. This was what I’d been waiting to hear. It felt like cool water on a burn.”

Lisa Brennan-Jobs on how his father (Steve Jobs) apologized to her before his death.

Even Steve Jobs regretted the time he wasn’t able to spend with his daughter.

One must work hard and focus to achieve significant success. It takes time, resources, and efforts to create huge, lasting impact.

But along the way, maybe the people closest to these achievers suffer the most.

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