One of my clients is very wealthy, and over lunch one day I asked “with what you have, why keep working?” He said “Well, compared to you I’m rich, but remember, I live down the Street from a famous executive. We play golf about once a month. He’s trying to break a billion. I want to get so that I have about $10 million securely in my portfolio, then I’ll relax. It’s the world I swim in.”
I love what I do, and part of the fun of it is making money. It is satisfying to land a big client or account, see a big number on an invoice. But that satisfaction isn’t an end into itself. The joy, for me, is knowing that employees and collaborators will be able to be paid. That people who work for me can continue to grow in what they do while working in a healthy fun environment. The key mission isn’t the number in the bank account, the key mission is doing something rewarding that contributes to the world.
You can’t ignore money, you need money to keep payroll covered and the lights on and the heat going, but it isn’t the end itself. It’s just a tool meant to be used for other purposes. In Zen they say that words are just the finger that points at the moon, and the moon is enlightenment. Most students spend their whole lives obsessed with the words, with the fingers pointing at enlightenment, when they should be looking for the moon. Money has the same effect on many people. When you are counting what you’ve got about someone else, you’ve become too focused on the fingers, when you should be looking at the moon.
Is there anything wrong with accumulating money? Provided you earned it ethically, no, there isn’t. But the money itself isn’t the point. A large bank account doesn’t bring you closer to the people you care about, doesn’t leave you feeling that differently than you did before. If you need just “$10 millon in the bank” then you’ll relax, or “$1 million” in the bank then you’ll relax, then you will never relax. You’ll get that figure, then look down the Street and want more. The only choice is to, right now, today, focus on what things you actually want in life, and use money as a tool for supporting them.
We all need money in some way, but the important thing is to remember to look at the moon.
Occasionally, Logix will invite guest bloggers to post on assorted financial topics. These posts may or may not represent our views