No, you can’t have it all

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It is 21 January 2014. Mohamed El-Erian, a family man and CEO of a $2 trillion-plus global investment fund, PIMCO, has just resigned after his 10-year-old daughter handed him a list of 22 items describing all the important events he has missed since the beginning of the year [1].

This decision came after several negative interactions with his daughter. For a whole year, El-Erian had been asking his daughter to brush her teeth, but she would not listen. When he started to raise his voice with the classic phrase “I am your father and you will do what I tell you”, the 10-year-old girl retreated to her room and began to write down on a piece of paper 22 important moments in her life that her father missed because of his busy work schedule.

El-Erian then read the list and made a decision the next day: to give up his position as CEO for good to be a full-time father.

With all those fucking zeros on their bank statements, El-Erian and all those billionaires who decide to blow it all on a desert island overnight can afford it.

However, this kind of indirect sacrifice of personal life for professional success is much more common than most of us realize.

One only has to look closely at the lives of those who have changed the course of history to see that they have all sacrificed part of their personal lives to achieve such a feat. Steve Jobs was a cold, contemptuous and impassive father to his first daughter, Lisa, whom he had at the age of 23 [2]. Bill Gates remained single until his thirties.

These beings, sometimes to the detriment of their explicit will, had to make a choice at some point in their lives to promote their professional success. They worked while ordinary humans spent time with their loved ones. They led a life that seemed unbalanced to others and normal to them. They devoted their time to the activity that was most important to them while most of us did everything in our power to make sure we didn’t miss anything.

These two types of people live in different realities, carry out different activities and also have different visions of life.

However, although we all live in different contexts, there is a fundamental rule that crowns every action we take: whatever we do in our lives, whatever it is, costs something, one way or another.

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