‘The Liabilities of Success!’

Share This Post

25th May, 2023

Bryan Johnson is spending millions of dollars each year towards a singular ambition—to slow his aging. His meticulous morning routine begins with light therapy during meditation. He follows this up by consuming The Green Giant, a pre-workout drink concocted from a blend of six diverse supplements, and strict regimen of over 50 different pills. All of this before his 1-hour workout, his skincare protocol, and, finally, breakfast.

According to his website, Johnson is aging (biologically) at a rate of around 9 months every year. And though he is technically 45, his biomarker data suggest that his biological age is around 42.5.

I am sceptical as to whether it will be worth it in the end. After all, what’s the point of living longer if you have to spend all that extra time following an elaborate longevity routine? Even if you succeed, you have very little freedom around how you get to live your life.

Johnson’s experiment demonstrates an important point about the hidden costs of achievement,  ‘The liabilities of success’—for every public accomplishment, there is a private sacrifice that is often overlooked. If we view accomplishments as assets, then the sacrifices made to achieve them can be seen as liabilities. More importantly, these sacrifices aren’t just made once, but over and over again.

In Johnson’s case, he sacrifices his time, money, and biological impulses (i.e. eating a less restrictive diet) to pursue his longevity goals. And he will need to keep making these sacrifices if he wants this to continue. But, Johnson’s case isn’t unique. Many ultra-successful people, be it the super famous sports stars, Movie idols or the corporate czars, they all make similarly extreme sacrifices when chasing their goals as well.

It’s easy to idolize the accomplishments of those who are more successful than you, but it’s hard to envisage the price they pay for that success.

This is why you have to think deeply about what liabilities you are willing to take on prior to embarking on a new project. Before starting a business, you should ask yourself, “Do I want to own the successful version of this business?”


If you want to have ultra-low body fat, are you willing to say goodbye to alcohol and most high calorie foods for the foreseeable future? Not me Surely!

For the super successful career, are you ready to devote 80 hours week, 20 day travel and virtually zero family time ?

Imagining the “successful version” of your future goals is the best way to determine whether they’re right for you.

This trade off reminds me of the story of the Mexican fisherman.

An investment banker was vacationing in a small seaside town in Mexico. He notices a local fisherman pulling up to the dock in a small boat with a few freshly caught fish. The banker asks the fisherman, “How long did it take you to catch those fish?” The fisherman replies, “Oh, not too long.”

The banker then asks, “Why don’t you stay out longer and catch more fish?” The fisherman responds, “I don’t need to. I already have enough to support my family.” The banker then asks, “Well, how do you spend the rest of your time then?”

To which the fisherman replies:

I sleep late. I fish a little. I play with my kids. I take a siesta. And every night I go into the village, have some wine, and play guitar with my friends.

The banker, looking a bit puzzled, says:

But, if you catch more fish, then you could sell them and earn enough to buy a bigger boat. And with that bigger boat you could catch even more fish and then hire a crew. Eventually you could buy a few boats and have many fisherman working for you catching more fish than you ever dreamed of. And if you keep doing this, you could eventually sell your business for millions and retire rich.

The fisherman asks, “And then what?” To which the investment banker replied:

Then you can sleep late. Fish a little. Play with your kids. Take a siesta. And every night you could go into the village, have some wine, and play guitar with your friends.

There are a lot of people who talk about the story of the Mexican fisherman as they scramble to do more & more.

But, some of us actually get the lesson—success always comes with liabilities.

Choose your life and destination wisely and stay blessed forever.