"If I had been married earlier in life, I wouldn't have seen the double helix. I would have been taking care of the kids on Saturday. On the other hand, I was lonely a lot of the time." - James Watson
What struck me about the quote was that it perfectly captured the trade-off that many overachievers struggle with; should we sacrifice family or relationships for the chance to achieve something great or noteworthy? In Watson's case, his ambition resulted in one of the most significant breakthroughs in biology, but it came with a price (loneliness).
But I think what was most interesting is what the quote didn't say - did he make the choice to focus on his work consciously ahead of time, or was he just always working and therefore "never had time for a wife" (as Billy Joel would put it). It's also unclear whether he would make the same choice again. Did he regret the path he took? Would he have been happier in life if he had been taking care of the kids on Saturday?
In the quote, he offered wisdom but no suggestions for the younger generation of driven individuals. Many of us are left wondering "Was it worth the sacrifice?" or "Is it rewarding enough to knowingly choose ambition, while we still have a choice?"
Maybe, as a well-trained scientist, Watson felt he shouldn't draw conclusions about "the path not taken," rather only offer his experience and wisdom. Since many of us are at the fork in the road right now, what do you think? Is it worth making the sacrifices in favor of ambition or success? What sacrifices are ok? What trade-offs are you having to think about right now?