I received a surprise in the mail the other day. It was a book titled Is That All There Is? by Bruce Turkel. The cover is a little funky. Looking at the book, you don’t know what it’s about. It doesn’t even have the author’s name on it. Other than the spine, it doesn’t even have the name of the book on the cover—just the initials in big bold letters, ITATI, which start on the back and work their way to the front cover.
I started to toss it onto a pile with many other books people send me, but that strange cover grabbed my attention. I opened the cover to read the inside flaps. Maybe there would be some hint as to what this book was about. But there was nothing … not even an author bio. Even more, intrigued, I started reading the first few pages. After about 20 minutes, I, unfortunately, had to take a call, otherwise, I would have kept reading. Eventually, I did.
This book speaks to me, and I bet it will to you, too. As leaders, we are tasked with running organizations, managing the big picture, which includes the numbers: revenue, growth, stock prices, and more. And when we are successful, we are applauded. Most people appreciate what we do. But, if you are like many other leaders, you often wonder, “Is that all there is?”
This goes beyond the world of business. Athletes experience the same, “Is that all there is?” syndrome (for lack of a better term). It’s been written that some athletes who have won an Olympic gold medal still find themselves unfulfilled.
The medal to most would be the pinnacle of an athletic career. But for some of these athletes, it wasn’t enough. They feel—or know—that they could have done even better. Even with this great accomplishment, they are unfulfilled.
There have been astronauts who dreamed of going into space since they were children, and when they finally do, they think, “Is that all there is?”
Reading Turkel’s book, you immediately understand what you’re in for if you continue reading beyond page the first page. He writes, “What’s wrong with me? I have everything I fought for! What right do I have to not be happy?”
Have you ever felt that way? Like, there has to be more.
Finding Fulfillment in Your Career
Turkel ran a successful advertising agency. His friends, very successful business people, we’re making appointments with him to talk about their careers. No, he wasn’t a therapist. He was their friend. As he listened, he noticed that as successful as they were, they weren’t happy. Just like the Olympic athletes and the astronauts, they weren’t fulfilled. They wanted more. And they wondered if there was more.
Turkel thoughtfully gave them his advice. And then one day he noticed that he was listening to and looking at a reflection of himself. He was also unfulfilled. This revelation reminded him of the Pogo comic strip in which Pogo Possum, the main character (yes, an opossum), said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
There are plenty of interviews with plenty of lessons throughout the book. One of my favorites is the Rick Beato interview. Beato is a music teacher turned YouTube entrepreneur. With 2.5 million subscribers and more than 800 videos, you could call him a social media YouTube success. He shares how he became interested in music, signed a record deal, and landed a publishing deal. Much of this happened serendipitously—being in the right place at the right time or with the right people.
But many people don’t recognize the opportunities that present themselves for what they are. Beato did, and it helped him move toward his passion to something different, his YouTube channel. Here’s a line that caught my attention. “I’m not obsessed with money, I’m not obsessed with subscribers, anything like that—none of that stuff really… I’m obsessed with getting things done.”
Beato figured it out! What gets him excited is more than just music. Was that all there was? No! He combined his passion for music with his passion for what really drives him. Getting things done.
Obviously, I can’t give you the answer to, “Is that all there is?” in a short article. Turkel’s book takes more than 400 pages to help readers find the answer. If nothing else, I hope I’ve whetted your appetite to find your answer. It will take some work. Turkel dishes up plenty of stories, interviews with successful people, and lessons that can help. Perhaps you will discover that “something more” you’ve been looking for.
This article has been reprinted with permission from Shep Hyken’s Forbes page.