There is no such thing as a free lunch

One of these days, I need to write down some life lessons for Kate and Briggs. When they leave for college (both on scholarship, mind you), I’ll hand them an envelope.  Inside, there’d be some life lessons to share how the world works. At least from my point of view.  

It will annoy them to no end, but it will make me feel better.  I’m OK with that.

Near the top of the list would be this: There’s no such thing as a free lunch.

You want to be a top-level athlete? You’re going to have to spend time in the gym and forego late-night parties so that you can train the next morning.

You want your business to grow? You’ll deal with the headaches of growth, which are often overlooked by those fixated by the thought that bigger is better. 

Do you want to turn around an organization?  You’ll need many tough conversations and even more tough decisions.  And “tough” is probably not strong enough a word.

For every action, there’s an opposite reaction.  I’m not sure it is always an equal reaction.  But this much is true – any time you push in a new direction in your life, something else will push back.

Given this “rule” of life, it might be tempting to stand still.  To maintain the status quo.  To refrain from rocking the boat.

Ah, be careful, Kate and Briggs. 

There’s no free lunch there either.

You want to stand still in life?  You’ll miss much of its beauty and opportunities.

You want to maintain the status quo?  You’ll rack up lost opportunity costs. 

You want to refrain from rocking the boat? That boat will never tip over, but it won’t be much of a ride. 

So, it sounds like you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place, eh?  Push forward, and prepare to face the headwinds.  Stand still, and you risk being lapped and becoming irrelevant.

Not so. 

The key is to know what you want out of life.  What you want your business to be.  What you truly want to accomplish.  And let me be clear – you really have to know what you want.  With surgical precision.

Once you know that, the rest is easy.

Once you know that, you’ll happily pay the price for that lunch.

Anthony Demangone

Anthony Demangone

Anthony Demangone is executive vice president and chief operating officer at the National Association of Federal Credit Unions (NAFCU). Demangone oversees day-to-day operations and manages the association’s education, membership, ... Web: Details