Why happiness matters more than compensation

In response to the recent news about Google and possible unfair compensation, columnist Rob Enderle writes that a happy life is far more rewarding than a large estate.

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You’ll also likely find that folks near headquarters and that come into the office advance more quickly than those that are in satellite offices or work from home. And, finally, those who have broad interests and socialize inside the company, and outside with folks in the same industry, have the best opportunities and advance more quickly.  

So rather than complaining about a system that is unfair, learn to use the unfairness to your advantage. But that isn’t what I want to leave you with.

Is compensation that important?

I was trained to be a CEO and have been recruited to be one three times, I’ve turned down every offer. The reason for this is that I grew up with CEOs, and I’ve studied them. Generally, they have a ton of responsibility, far less actual authority than you would think, they have, as a group, a surprisingly lonely existence, and they have a very high risk of losing perspective and losing their jobs because of abusing their power. Like celebrities they are often surrounded with people who just want to use them.  

At the end of their term as CEO they tend to drop into obscurity and related depression having been hooked on the status they no longer have and the perks they can no longer afford.   Even founder CEOs find what they loved so much about starting a company is gone when they must run the thing once it matures. Now there are those who love command and actually do a nice job with work-life balance, but we don’t call them out often and they typically aren’t the example that folks try to emulate (though they should).  

So, I’ll leave you with a lesson I learned, and applied. My best friend’s father was a guy who came up the hard way, was a CEO of several firms, made and lost several fortunes, and ended up living in a small room in a hotel he owned and largely started with. From that I learned how important it is to focus on taking pleasure out of life and pretty much screw everything else. Find what you enjoy and do that, don’t worry about what other people have or make, focus on the people that bring pleasure into your life. He died a few years ago, but I watched him learn those lessons the hard way and he was one of the folks who seemed to do well and find the secret of happiness, which I think is a far better goal than accumulating money and things.  

So back to the issue at Google, there are likely folks there who are upset at the salary discrepancies being reported. Surely there are those with their heads down continuing to do the things they love. Then there may be some going off to find jobs at companies that treat them better. I’m suggesting the latter two groups are the ones you want to emulate if you want a happy life, and that a happy life can be far more rewarding than a large estate.   They say it is the journey and not the destination, life is like that and it makes little sense to sacrifice life quality just to acquire things you’ll leave behind anyway. Something to noodle on this weekend.

Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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