I had an appointment with a surgeon earlier this week. Don’t worry, it was nothing too serious.
He just confirmed what I already suspected: that the body of a nearly-40-year-old can’t do what it could do 20 years ago.
This orthopaedic surgeon, who was about my age, had very slick consulting rooms. There was the mandatory plasma-screen TV in the waiting room as well as designer furniture.
He also had the compulsory, good-looking receptionist (who was very friendly, by the way). He was a great guy, too. I learnt after my 20-minute consultation that the cost was $150. Nice work if you can get it.
The thing that struck me about my surgeon was just how guaranteed financial success is for him. Unless he develops a raging drug habit or something, he has a very clear and linear path for making many millions of dollars over the next 20 to 30 years.
Now, I don’t begrudge him that for a second.
He has obviously studied for many years – probably something like 10 to 15 years. Without a doubt, he would be a very smart guy who helps people in serious pain and with serious problems.
I just couldn’t help contrasting his situation with that of entrepreneurs like us. We don’t have anywhere near as clear a path to financial riches.
The potential pay-off that we are all shooting for may be greater than a surgeon with a BMW X5 (perhaps alongside a Lexus or Audi Q7).
But our path is also far, far riskier, too.
I have to admit that I was a little jealous (in the nicest possible way). I’ve also made massive sacrifices over the course of my career. Not only have I studied extensively but I have also passed up on a potentially lucrative career in advertising.
But then I asked myself two questions: Firstly, would I really want to spend the rest of my life drilling out old people’s hips? The answer to that is definitely no. Which is also a major win for my potential patients, believe me.
The other question I asked myself is, ultimately, who is going to have the more interesting and exciting professional life? I think it has to be me and all of my fellow entrepreneurs. We are the ones boldly stepping into the unknown with no guarantee of success.
It’s scary often. It’s uncertain always.
Sure, some days I would gladly trade it for the comfort of being a surgeon with a guaranteed beach house, regular trips to the ski fields and annual business-class trips to Europe.
But ours is a far more exciting journey where we get to live by our wits and our success has a lot more to do with how creative and adaptable we are day in and day out than it has to do with how well we did way back in Year 12.
Now, to book in for that hip arthroscopy…