I actually heard a very successful entrepreneur say that. In public, and without a trace of irony. Out of the mouths of babes…

I first heard about the importance of quality time with family and friends, work-life balance and such way back when I first started working for a living. That would be back in the mid-80s. And, well, quality family time and work-life balance are good things. Things that, for a very large majority of people (at least in the first world), can and should be central to living.

Alas, high risk/reward entrepreneurship is seldom (as in never) compatible with spending much quality time with family and friends, or work-life balance generally. Any more than being a C-level executive at a Fortune 500 company is; or a touring concert pianist; or a PGA tour golf pro; or .., etc. etc. etc. People who want to compete at the highest level of just about any profession make a lot of compromises. Probably the first and biggest is letting go of the idea that you can compete and win at that level and maintain a “balanced” life.

I know, no one wants to be accused of shortchanging their family and friends, or even themselves, for the sake of … work. But being the best, at just about anything, is not something that goes with a “normal” or even “healthy” level of commitment. It is something that only comes – and then only occasionally – to people who live and breathe what they do: that have a “fire in the belly” that drives them relentlessly.

Fantastic success is not a forty, or even sixty, hours a week proposition. It’s an every waking moment deal. Show me a high risk/reward entrepreneur who has changed the world and I’ll show you someone who – while they were doing that – had too much trouble finding time to sleep to spend much “quality time” with family and friends or find balance in their life.

I’ve met more than my fair share of successful high risk/reward entrepreneurs. I’ve yet to meet one who – when they were doing whatever they did to achieve that success – could fairly be said to have had a balanced life. I’ve also met many folks who probably had what it takes to change the world but decided it wasn’t worth the necessary personal and family sacrifices: good for them, too. Finally, I’ve met all too many folks who just don’t understand that being the best – not good, or very good, or very, very good, but the best – is not just a full-time job. It’s a full-time life.

So go ahead, make some time in your life for your family and friends. And stop and smell the roses, too. Just don’t try and do that when you are building that world-changing startup business that you can’t get out of your mind.

“If I had known how successful I was going to be, I’d have spent more time with my family.” You and every other successful high risk/reward entrepreneur.