If I do really well in my career, I one day hope to having savings in excess of five million dollars. That means that if you took twenty of me, you'd be able to cover Larry Ellison's annual salary. If he saved that salary for twenty years, he'd have the net worth of Ted Turner. On the other hand, it would take more than twenty Ted Turners to buy a Bill Gates.
On the other hand, with five million dollars I'd be able to conservatively spend about a thousand dollars a day for the rest of my life without really worrying about working down the base.
If I only look upwards, I will always be miserable.
It's the same with smarts, really. My adviser is pretty hot shit in our field and he talks pretty reverently of a few people whose contributions have been even more important. And whenever I get a chance to talk to those guys, they're always going on about how much they wish they could do really hard math... the kind that wins Wolf prizes.
It's always endless if you look upwards. The next level always seems unapproachable and if you do get there, there's always another level to go.It's good to have ambition, but its critical to have a sense of scale.
Besides, twenty years from now when you get a call from a hospital about my love ones dying, none of this will matter at all.