During my work I have observed that many successful and intelligent people and families who have almost everything money can buy, share that they experience challenges relating to their wealth, success or statues beyond investments, succession, governance structure or wealth preservation. At times they even experience a sense of “amiss”, “emptiness” or inner dissatisfaction, but are not able to explain why.
“How can this be?” They have asked. Isn’t money the single most transformational substance in our society? It is attractive and perceived as greatly desirable? Isn’t it everyone’s dream? Why do we experience these feelings?”
The answer is simple: unknown to them, their relationship with money or success is skewed!
Despite this, the industrial revolution, the development of capital markets and the arrival of the information age have made wealth attainable by ever larger numbers of people and beguiled us even more.
But the truth is that money without meaning is like water without a container, or a fire that is out of control; both are destructive. Much to my surprise many of these destructive behaviors and attitudes have become acceptable in our society and are therefore considered normal!
There are several common mistakes that people make about money and their relationship with it:
- Success: Equating success with external achievements (money, wealth, fame) or power
- Happiness: Thinking that money and success guarantee happiness
- Security: Seeing money and success as the source of their security and safety
- Self-worth: Basing their self-confidence and self-worth on how much money they have
Looking at the opportunities and pitfalls created by success and wealth, it is apparent that part of the challenge is that some of us are not controlling the experience of money, materialism, success or fame, but are “allowing it to control them”.
So…ask yourself everyday: “Am I controlled by my experience, status, success or a drive to achieve and have more, or do I control it?”