…you may eventually get to be boss and work twelve hours a day. – Robert Frost
…So I had a moment this weekend where I really thought about limits. And by this I mean that no matter how much time and energy one dedicates to getting better at any one thing… there is a practical ceiling to how quickly one can progress. Sure, you have your early 30-something billionaires like Elizabeth Holmes and Mark Zuckerberg… but these outliers are exceptional people that also had a lot of the right breaks come at the right time. Most people – no matter how hard working they are – will not be billionaire (or even millionaire) executives by the time they reach their early 30s. Check out the below graphic (found here) from Alvarez and Marsal showing the average CEO/CFO/COO ages:
^I couldn’t find the same data from CHROs, but I imagine they are in their late 40s or early 50s when they first take on the top job as well (and those are just the folks that get there at all). Again, if you take a look at the additional data breakouts in the link above you will find a few mid-20 somethings on the tails of these distributions… but they are exceptions that prove the rule.
…I suppose I say this to say that – as we get started this week – no matter what your goals are or how desperately you want them, remember to breathe and enjoy the process. As you promote up higher and higher in your career you will have plenty of time to work long hours and make sacrifices. So take the opportunities you can to relax while you’re young.