December 30, 2023

Dear friend,

I come to you with a short story. Come with me:

Yesterday at about 12:30 am after conducting an interview for my ongoing research, I decided to go on Instagram before I caught some sleep. Divinely, I stumbled on the profile of a young man who turned 25. I was amazed at how many cars and houses he had already. I could see that he also had a thriving business. I spent about 10 minutes on his page looking at his pictures. I was inspired. I felt motivated. However, I began to feel sad and down. A silent voice in my head began to whisper to me the following words:

  1. “Aaron, this is a 25-year-old with all these achievements and you are a 30-year-old, still a PhD student”.
  2. “Aaron, just look at such a young man but he has gotten to the top already”

Genuinely, the inspiration I got in the first few minutes of being on his page began to dwindle.

As a protective mechanism to maintain the inspiration, I began to whisper to myself:

“Aaron, could there be a 40-year-old looking at your pictures now and thinking that you have reached the top?” I answered myself in the affirmative knowing that many other people think I have gotten to the top too. However, here I was thinking I am a 30-year-old who has achieved very little because of the pictures of the 25-year-old man I saw.
If you have been patient to read this far, this is where my boring story ends but here is my message:

While I was fixated on comparing my achievements with him and feeling like a failure, it was clear that to another person somewhere, I may have already arrived at the top of every achievement.

As humans, we will have moments where we feel like someone else is doing better than us and begin to make comparisons. While this has the potential to inspire us, there is also the risk that it can demotivate us and take us to a dark place as it did with me in my short story.

At such times, I invite you to remember that the position you may consider the “BOTTOM” may be considered the “TOP” by another person. This should keep us all in the realisation that the experiential definition of the TOP is fluid and never static. As beings, we will NEVER get to the top of ANYTHING, we have been programmed to keep climbing.

In my story, I felt the 25-year-old had reached the top of his career because of his achievements but I am sure he does not feel the same way and that is why he is still working.

You may think I have reached the top because I am a PhD student on a scholarship in Australia but my story says otherwise and that is why I am still studying and thinking of what comes next.

This is an unending journey for us all.

The trick is to recognise that where you are now in your business, your career, your marriage, your education, etc is your TOP now and may change tomorrow so celebrate being on the Top. We will never get to the top because we are at our various TOPS already.

This is not just a story to inspire you, it is also a confession of my experience and a reflection to remain grateful. I hope it resonates with you too.

Welcome to the top.

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