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What does a successful executive look like?

Often, the image of glamour successful people project acts as a shield that hides the sad truth of their lives and how fragile their self-esteem is.

Climbing the corporate ladder and winning higher status often produce the opposite effect of what a fulfilling life should be. Alongside the perks and privileges, people lose control over their time and themselves. They can no longer express their more spontaneous but vulnerable selves. Their words are consequential because they must always be guarded; they believe others are looking to them for guidance and authority. They fell prey to paranoid thoughts, seeing plots everywhere. The slightest decrease in adulation can feel like a catastrophe. And they grow strangers to those who love them outside of their status and wealth, depending ever more on the fickle attention of those for whom they are their achievements alone.

Most of us are very aware of the costs of having a successful career. Yet, very few can imagine that someone decides not to take a promotion or a higher-paid job, not because they had no chance, but because –having rationally evaluated the costs and benefits- they chose not to.

Our days are limited on earth, but sadly, as the Dalai Lama was surprised to note, many men live their lives as if they will never die and then die having never really lived.


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