Be Careful What You Wish For

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Well, my friends, like the Terminator, politicians named Clinton, the ghosts from the movie Poltergeist, and that corn on the side of your big toe: I’m back. There are just some things that won’t go away. Sorry.

I’m sure many of you have been wondering why I’ve been absent from these hallowed pages for a number of months, just as I’m sure many of you are now reading this and thinking, “Who is this idiot and what have they done with Harvey MacKay?”

The simple truth is this: I’ve been busy getting what I wished for, end of story.

OK, maybe that’s not the end of the story because that would make for a very short column and my illustrious comeback as a revered small business advice guru would be short-lived. Let’s just use this as a place to renew our relationship and before it’s over I’ll sum it up with one of my famous business and life lessons that will undoubtedly change your life forever. Or not.

It all began with the words of my beloved Mama, who told me, “Son, be careful what you wish for because you just might get it.” Get your pencils ready, here’s where the big lesson begins.

You see, I’ve spent a good chunk of my adult life as an entrepreneur, with a sideline career as a writer, speaker, teacher, and sometime talk radio host. I’ve been relatively successful across the board and live a good life with no complaints. You think that would be enough, but not for me.

In spite of my professional and personal accomplishments I had always wished for something more. I can’t really explain it other than to say a misfiring electron somewhere deep in my brain caused me to always dream of writing a best selling business book and traveling the country to promote it.

I wanted to be the southern fried Steven Covey; traveling from town to town spreading the gospel of entrepreneurship for all to hear. It would almost be a religious experience, as I foresaw it in my mind. I envisioned throngs of the entrepreneurial faithful coming from far and wide to hear me speak, to hang on my words, to bask in my wisdom, to pony up $22.95 for the hard cover.

So after many years I found myself at a point in my life when I could take time off and write that long wished for book. And write that book I did. Everything I Know About Business I Learned from my Mama became a bestseller and I put my business interests on hold to hit the road to promote it.

I was in constant motion, signing books and speaking to audiences and making appearances on television and radio shows. I was rarely home and when I was I really wasn’t there. In my head I was already planning the next trip, signing the next book, speaking to the next crowd. And then the words of my mother started to ring in my ears.

“Be careful what you wish for, son, you just might get it…”

And one day it hit me. As I stood in line with my boots in hand waiting to get body searched by yet another airport TSA agent who wouldn’t know a terrorist if one bit him on the backside I realized that what I’d wished for so many years was in fact making me miserable.

I loved to write, I loved to speak, but I hated to travel and was born with a gene that causes 99.999% of people on the planet to get on my nerves. I hated being away from my wife and my kids and my dogs. I hated being away from my businesses. And the toll of my absence was starting to show across all fronts. I was slowly losing control of everything I held dear simply because my ego made wishes that my body and mind didn’t care to fulfill.

So here’s the big lesson, boys and girls: before you spend your life wishing for greener pastures, take a second look at the pasture you’ve got. You may find that you already have everything you really need be happy right in your own backyard.

How many marriages end because spouses disconnect and start wishing for someone new to come along and sweep them off their feet?

How many promising careers are thrown away because disgruntled employees spend time wishing for the perfect job, only to find that they had it all along?

And how many entrepreneurs wish themselves into business dreams that ultimately become nightmares?

Here’s one. Anyone else raising their hand?

Next week it’s back to business as usual. In the meantime remember: be careful what you wish for; you just might get it.

And then what?

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