I Wanted the Best
After I started my career and had done some traveling throughout the US, I came to the conclusion I wanted what I viewed as the best — city to live in, friends, job, pay, entertainment, skill levels and activities (skiing, hiking, rock climbing, reading, etc.), restaurants, trips, etc.
I know that sounds a little odd. Perhaps self-centered. It even feels a little like something that is somehow wrong. That’s not the case.
I always wondered why most people lived where they grew up. It could be a city or town with very little of note, but they would stay. Maybe it was their family and friends. That would make sense.
But in my case, I grew up in Portland OR and then went to college in another Oregon city and took a job with Procter & Gamble in Cincinnati. So where I grew up stayed behind, many miles away. That eliminated any hometown bias.
As I traveled, my job often had me living in many of the largest US cities for 4–6 weeks each over my first 3 1/2 years in my career. Long enough to get a good look at them. And I traveled alone so if I wanted to enjoy myself, I was going to have to meet people, to put myself out there.
And when you know you’ll only be in cities like New York, Boston, Miami, New Orleans, Memphis, Nashville, Dallas, Chicago, Cincinnati, Denver, LA, SF and Dallas for 4–6 weeks and you’re young and single, you do your best to explore every inch of that city before you leave. You try to meet women to date, to take to dinner or the theater and to show you around their hometown. That was a wonderful.
And after doing that for a few years, I could see a big difference between cities and what they offered. So I made a conscious decision:
- When I wanted to change jobs and leave Cincinnati, I would only live in cities that I loved: Boston, NYC, New Orleans, Chicago, LA, SF or Portland. I never understood why I should ever move to where my company took me or where the opportunities were. I chose SF since it had everything that I loved: beautiful, small, great restaurants, fabulous entertainment (the second best jazz city in the US, the best restaurants, one of the top five symphonies, good theater and the second best opera). World-class views from high-rises. Hard to beat the weekend trips (Carmel, Yosemite, Tahoe, Gold Rush Country, wine country). Great large city park for running and walking (Golden Gate Park). And a large number of available women. There seemed to be more women than men in my age range (late 20's). So that’s where I lived for 40 years.
- I loved great food and dined in the best restaurants.
- I loved entertainment so went to the great jazz clubs, the SF Symphony, The SF Opera, the theater, etc.
- SF had one men’s store that experts felt had the best clothes in the US. I found that was true and bought all of my clothes there.
- I felt the same about the car I drove, the office that I would lease, etc.
- And, or course, I felt the same way about the men and women that I met and associated with. I tried to hang around with those that were more successful than I was. And smarter than me. I did not spend any time with people who were toxic, negative, overly selfish or clearly weren’t going anywhere.
- And while we’re at it, why not get some good mentors? I had a few. They were truly the best. One gave me a spiritual life and another helped my career path. Invaluable. Both are listed in the only book I wrote: A Fool’s Errand — Why Your Goals Are Falling Short and What You Can Do About It. Published in January, 2021. That book gives a different side of me for the first 35 years. Let’s just say that I was a failure. But that’s another story. A good story as it turns out.
- I felt the same way about travel. I couldn’t afford to travel the way I wanted until I was in my mid-thirties. But from then on my goal was two European trips per year and I wanted to stay and eat at… Well, you know.
- My wife and I had a goal in all of our travels. We wanted to understand how the West became dominant. Not the best, just dominant. How did that happen? So we traveled almost exclusively in an area bounded by the Silk Route on the east, Ireland on the west, northern Africa (Egypt) on the south and Russia and Scandinavia on the north. That was enough for one lifetime. That leaves out some wonderful countries in Asia and the Americas. We made a few exceptions but very few.
- Also, I wanted to give back. So I always searched for causes that meant something to me. I found several (generally involving kids and education) and met people who shared my motivations. And most of those people were special. One might even call them the best.
I’m not talking about wanting something because it’s high status. Nor am I suggesting coveting things because others will be envious. Nor because they’re expensive, large or flashy. To me, that seemed to often reflect personal weakness and a poor self image. Those are the wrong motivations.
Once someone called me an elitist. And I wondered “what’s wrong with that?” I interpreted that to mean that I wanted “the best”. Now who wouldn’t want to hang around with people who they determined were “the best”. Unless they were phonies or folks with oversize egos. Or who wouldn’t want to do “the best”? So I ignored that comment.
Of course, budget was initially an issue. But that just meant that I’d do less of the costly things. And some of the best things for me cost little or nothing.
It matters a great deal whether or not you have to plan for children and grandchildren. We didn’t. That, of course, makes a big difference in money and time and in other important ways.
Don’t you think the same way? Don’t you like the best (defined as the best for YOU)? If not, why not? If cost is the reason, that’s a very good reason until you rectify that situation. You just do less of the expensive stuff. You buy fever suits. You get the picture.
And then if you work on your “future self” (look that up and read about it). Your future self can be programmed with how you want to live.
So you read some self-help books and blogs. And you read high level literature, Great Books, philosophy, bios and history. I had to do that since I only studied math and engineering physics in college and knew nothing of literature.
For me, reading was often the best way to learn and grow.