Uneasy Lies The Head That Wears a Crown


“Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.” — William Shakespeare

We have this strange fascination for the extremely successful among us. We crave stories about Alexander the Great, Caesar, Rockefeller, or Vanderbilt.

But we don’t think that it’s not all fun and games to sacrifice in a myriad different ways on a daily basis in order to reach the top of the food chain. We don’t think of how treacherous the path to the top of the mountain truly is.

Back when being a king meant absolute power, there was a high probability of being assassinated within a couple of years at best.

Caesar was killed, Alexander was likely poisoned. There’s an impressive list of artists who died at the age of 27.

Assuming the responsibility required to conquer the world, to save it, to save everyone else from themselves, means that you effectively give up on your freedom.

There’s a price one must pay for extreme success. You write history by letting ambition consume you. You let the fire within you burn relentlessly, day and night.

Napoleon tried to conquer the world. He took a gamble and lost it all.

What does this have to do with you?

Isn’t true that we often daydream about living life in such a way that history will remember us?

In most cases, comparison is the thief of joy. But when we compare ourselves with the kings and conquers in our history books, when we try to micromanage a business the way Alexander did his troops, when we compares ourselves with the ones we find on the lists of the world’s richest people, we allow our fascination to ignore the risks.

It’s easy to try to conquer the world. All you have to do is handle the kind of uncertainty that would cripple most people. That’s why they did it. They could, they were willing to.

It’s easy being a lion until there’s another hungrier, younger, and more powerful lion approaching in the distance.

Wearing a crown means that everyone who doesn’t wear it craves your position.

You have a target on your back. Your freedom is limited by the dangers of power, by the envy of those who desire your position.

A simple but effective reminder of this is the way former US president Barack Obama aged during his two terms.

We often forget that those who get to wear a crown are the ones who are more than willing to hold the world on their shoulders. It’s not easy. It’s excruciatingly painful to do so. You are exposed. You invest all your energy and time on holding the world up on your shoulders.


Whenever you find yourself wanting more, feeling inferior because you haven’t conquered the world yet, think about the fact that uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.

Don’t give in to fantasies of wealth and glory.

Everybody wants the reward, but few are willing to pay the price.

Everybody wants to win the lottery, but few are willing to deal with the pressure of having to share some of those winnings with friends and family, or having to decline demands for money from people they barely met. Few are willing to sacrifice and move to another country, few are willing to face the mental strain such a huge amount of money places on you.

Whenever you find yourself daydreaming about fame and money, stop and think about the risks, the sleepless nights, the countless frustrations, the critics, the haters, and the enemies.

We all want to wear the crown, but we do not want to pick it up. We do not want to fight against all the others who also want to wear it, we do not want to hold the world on our shoulders in order to deserve wearing the crown.

We do not want to put in the work that is required, the sacrifices that are demanded by such a great honor.


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2 Comments

  1. “Whenever you find yourself daydreaming about fame and money, stop and think about the risks, the sleepless nights, the countless frustrations, the critics, the haters, and the enemies.”

    “You don’t have to turn this into something. It doesn’t have to upset you.” – Marcus Aurelius

    “We all want to wear the crown, but we do not want to pick it up. We do not want to fight against all the others who also want to wear it, we do not want to hold the world on our shoulders in order to deserve wearing the crown.”

    “Rome wasn’t built in a day & yet stood Tyll it was fynysht, as some saie, full fayre.” – John Heywood

    Trying to pick up (let alone wear) a heavy crown that you haven’t prepared for, would seem like trying to pick up a full grown bull! Surely ‘Milo of Croton’ knew the importance of preparation when he started with a calf and “grew” into it.

    “We do not want to put in the work that is required, the sacrifices that are demanded by such a great honor.”

    “Do not think that what is hard for you to master is humanly impossible; and if it is humanly possible, consider it to be within your reach.” – Marcus Aurelius

    Then again… perhaps… “the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing”?

    Liked by 2 people

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