There are two strategies for your work and business: make a living or make a killing. Either is doable and either can be a solid strategy. Deciding now will make the rest of the journey fall into place, but only if you choose based on what you actually want, not what you think you should want.
Making a living
Anyone, well-educated or otherwise, can make themselves a living. Finding a job, freelancing, starting a business with a few customers: all each involves is an idea and enough motivation to ask the question. One yes leads to another and a nice business or a solid career ladder is formed.
A monthly salary or a decent day rate can mean you always have enough to pay the rent, buy the groceries and enjoy meals out, entertainment and nice clothes. Reaching this position puts you in comfortable place of contentment. There are no obvious dangers, you have some savings, you live a life you enjoy and you’re doing pretty well, all things considered.
Schooling inspires students to follow this path. Education, more education, find a job and settle down. Make enough to buy your essentials, a few luxuries, and pay for the education of your kids. The cycle repeats.
But what if this life isn’t what you’re looking to do? What if, somewhere, you have a feeling that you could do more?
Making a killing
Aiming to make a killing is the lesser-trodden path of the two. Compared to learning business theory from textbooks, being advised by career coaches and prepared for job interviews with handshake drills, the road to making a killing is the wilderness. It’s not for everyone.
How do you make a killing? How do you earn more money than you know what to do with? How do you afford to live in the best houses, eat at the best restaurants, and pay to avoid the traffic when you travel? How do you earn the right to sort by price: high to low and throw money at admin problems to make them go away?
These answers aren’t found in textbooks. They are found in hare-brained ideas, trial and error, and playing the long game. They are found in talking to people you had to work hard to get in a room with. When paying attention to the detail that everyone else missed. In uncertainty. Trusting that the seemingly slow start will be followed by exponential growth.
These answers aren’t found by chasing money. They are found by aligning your passions with purpose, putting the work in, and thinking about every step instead of barrelling forward towards safety. They are found when the work you love to do becomes valuable to thousands.
The problem is, the gamble is big.
If you start a job with a steady paycheck you know, pretty well, what you will earn in months 12, 24 and 36. You can run calculations on income versus expenses and work out that you can buy with the gap. You can plan investments, savings, and holidays. With all that certainty, this option is attractive.
The problem is this comfort breeds mediocrity. If humans only take action to move away from pain and towards pleasure, the middle ground of making a living could be a permanent dwelling. For many, it is.
Attempting to straddle the two strategies of making a living and making a killing will cause further issues. One aims high, the other settles. One imagines what could be, the other makes do with what is. One tells themselves to keep going, the other pretends to be content. Flitting between ambition and acceptance means confusion of the existential kind, risking the living but not committing to the killing.
What’s stopping you?
So what stops us aiming to make a killing? Ego? The fear of failure? The fear of finding out it would have been better to stay put? Other people? The naysayers around us who don’t want us to fly too close to the sun? The ones who bring you back in line with their expectations.
Wanting the best for yourself is seen as greedy and selfish. Getting what you want is seen as lucky. With all the stigma, it’s no wonder hardly anyone discovers what they are capable of.
Paradoxically, if you work towards making a killing, you will likely make yourself a living by accident. This living will likely be more comfortable, more aspirational, than the one you would have made if you had focused on it.
I believe you are capable of making a killing. You are capable of creating such value for others that you are rewarded financially, and these rewards have no end. Inside you are ideas, stories and solutions that bring abundance for you and everyone around you. Making a killing is a by-product of the value you bring. Making a killing, therefore, is not the goal in itself, but a deserved perk when you operate at the best version of you that exists.