A former corporate colleague of mine once told me that "I was leading my corporate dream"... And you know what ? That's exactly the problem, I was leading my corporate dream but I wasn't leading my life dream ? And the worst part was that I couldn't see the difference.
I couldn't see the difference when leading my corporate dream brought me back to my home country, the USA, gave me my first VP title at the age of 29, I was also the youngest ever worldwide GM at age 32 : a dream come true. But because of my crazy overload of work and corporate travels, one day, at age 35, I came back home to an empty nest. My long term partner had left our home. And I went on with my corporate dream and took on new assignments, even tougher and more complex : crossed the Atlantic, settled in London, then back to Paris, changing divisions and climbing the ranks. A melanoma, a very letal form of skin cancer, hit me at 45. But it didn't stop me from going on with the same energy and drive as ever. Until a burn-out struck me down at age 50. I tried once again to do what I had always done -I didn't know any other way- and went back to work. This time it didn't work, there was no going back.
I'm certainly not saying that it's bad to have ambition. But if that ambition brings you farther and farther apart from who you really are, then it's bad for your health, and it's bad for you. Simple as that ! How do you tell whether your ambition is good or bad for you ? Let me tell you three big mistakes I made along the way.
My first big mistake was to listen to a very bad advice from a Corporate President who when he presented me with two career opportunities told me : in the corporate world you must follow what your head tells you to do, not your heart. Well, I lost the person I loved the most in my life for that mistake...
My second big mistake was to sacrifice taking care of my body, exercising, meditating. When I became a father at 40, I swore I would take care of my daughter, spend quality time with her. Great. But what did I sacrifice ? Some of my work hours ? No. I cut down on what was left of my own personal time to work out, meditate. I stopped Yoga although I had been regularly practicing for over 20 years. Thought it wouldn't matter? Thought I was invincible ? The honest truth is I didn't even think at all.
My third big mistake was not knowing how to say No to a promotion or to a new corporate challenge. The real problem wasn't that I didn't know how to say No to others; but rather that I had long forgotten how to say Yes to myself.
I had long forgotten the life dreams of when I was a little boy. I had long forgotten how to listen to my heart before I listened to my head. My body had become totally separated from my soul. I no longer heard the whispers of my body telling me what was giving me energy or taking it away; what I should say yes to or what I should say no to.
So, if you're still reading this article at this point, my only message to you is to ask yourself one very important question: "Am I really living my dream ?". And if the answer is No, then now may be the time to change.