Mondays & Empire Building


Monday is truthfully one of my favorite days of the week. Sure, it comes with its downsides and the after-the-weekend slump, but it's also a day of new horizons. I don't typically commute on Monday mornings, so I have the time to plan for the week ahead and goal set (my favorite). Lately, I've been thinking about my motivation for chasing certain goals. As much as it pains me to admit, I think a big draw for me is status. I like the idea of having an "impressive" job title and cool accomplishments. Bigger is better - that's what you're taught when you study business and climb the ladder.

However, I've been reading the book Small Giants: Companies that Choose to be Great Instead of Big by Bo Burlingham. The author details the journeys of a handful of different companies who made the tough decision to jump off of the hamster wheel and redefine what success looks like for their businesses and their teams. He says,

"The shareholders who own the businesses in this book have other, nonfinancial priorities in addition to their financial objectives. Not that they don’t want to earn a good return on their investment, but it’s not their only goal, or even necessarily their paramount goal. They’re also interested in being great at what they do, creating a great place to work, providing great service to customers, having great relationships with their suppliers, making great contributions to the communities they live and work in, and finding great ways to lead their lives. They’ve learned, moreover, that to excel in all those things, they have to keep ownership and control inside the company and, in many cases, place significant limits on how much and how fast they grow. The wealth they’ve created, though substantial, has been a byproduct of success in these other areas."

Now, not every principle in this book applies to my life or even my company, but I think there is some serious truth in the primary message. When we focus on being big, gaining status, and growing quickly in any area of our lives, we run the risk of losing quality. Consider the concept of only hanging out with your friends in big groups: it's fun, it's high energy, but very little one-on-one connection happens. Relationships are built, but are they deep relationships? Probably not. It's difficult to foster lasting connection without quality time. Similarly, it's difficult to create a quality-driven business that adds value to the lives of the owner and his/her employees without focusing on being great vs. big.

Having big goals is not a bad thing in my opinion; I have lots of them. However, I'm working on reexamining the true motivation behind my goals and how they fit into my overall definition of success. What's the point of building an empire if you can never enjoy the fruits of your labor, after all?