That Time When a $20 Cab Ride Taught Me More than a $100,000 MBA

I bullshit you not, this actually happened to me.

Several years ago, I took a taxi home one night from a black-tie event at the US Capitol in Washington, DC. Feeling inspired by the elegant Rotunda and having imbibed a few cocktails, I was feeling talkative and a bit philosophical. I was just about to finish business school, had a great job with Boeing, was doing objectively well in most phases of life and feeling a bit too good about myself for it. As we drove along the Potomac River for my apartment in Adams Morgan, I fell into conversation with the driver.

He told me the most incredible story.

He immigrated to the US for college and met a girl. They finished school, started a family, bought a house, got jobs and settled into a seemingly ideal life. His job supported his family well, but he was frequently away on travel. It came to a point when his toddler-aged son refused to give him a hug on his birthday; he’d been away so much he’d become a relative stranger in his own home.

He quit his job the next day.

His family found a way to make it work. He changed his job to work part-time during the day while his kids were in school and drove a cab a few nights a week after they went to sleep. He said he’d never been happier or more sure of what he was doing in his entire life.

As we pulled up to my apartment he turned around and asked, “Are the things you said you want in life the things you actually want, or are they things you just think you should want?”

Going into that cab ride, I had a lot of things. I had confidence. I had a buzz. I had a tuxedo on for Pete’s sake.

I didn’t have a “why”.

It was the best $20 I’ve ever spent.

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