The Cost of Extraordinary

“The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra.” Jimmy Johnson

In early 2009, Steve Jobs received a distressing diagnosis from his doctor. The cancer in his liver has spread and he might not get back from this alive.

Pushed by his family and close friends, Jobs finally acquiesce and declared that he is taking a medical leave.

In a close interview with Steve Jobs’ biographer, Walter Isaacson, Jobs’ wife Laurene Powell silently hoped that now that Steve have more time at home, he will start spending more time with his family- something that Jobs neglected as the CEO of Apple. 

But instead of doing that, Jobs returned to the office in mid-2009 like the resurrection of Jesus Christ and led Apple for two more years before finally succumbing to cancer. 

What disturbs me was his wife’s quotes on her husband’s return to Apple. I don’t remember exactly what she said to Steve’s biographer, but it sounded something like: 

“like any extraordinary people, Steve’s extraordinary efforts came with an extraordinary cost- strained relationships, hurt feelings and no family life”

Living in the 21st century with its meritocratic promise, gleaming media technologies and social freedom, it’s not too hard to imagine achieving an extraordinary life.

With all the insights of other people’s life we gained from our social media feeds, we are expected to live an extraordinary life, find an extraordinary spouse, raise an extraordinary family and have an extraordinary job.

The problem is that most of us fail to consider the cost of becoming extraordinary. 

To become extraordinary at one thing we need to dedicate an insane amount of energy, time and resources. But the harsh truth is, our energy, time and resources were scarce and limited.

That means dedicating your energy, time and resources on one area means less energy, time and resources on another area. This is opportunity cost plain and simple

Hence, an extraordinary businessman is usually a terrible father, an extraordinary innovator is usually an insufferable asshole and a creative artist is an emotionally unstable person. 

And if you are an extraordinary businessman, innovator and artist? Well chances are you are also a terrible father, an insufferable asshole and an emotionally unstable person. 

So be careful with what you wish for.

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I'm a happiness blogger who writes about philosophy for living strong, loving unconditionally and laughing more.

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