I’ll never be rich.
I’m not proud of that statement. It’s certainly not part of some happy-smiley affirmation that I recite every morning while waiting for my Eggos to toast.
But it’s a fact: the Buffets, Zuckerbergs, and Gates of the world needn’t worry. I won’t be running them out of the pages of Forbes anytime soon.
And I really don’t care.
I’m thinking of this today, in the midst of a sunny Christmas vacation, as I just received my annual “stack” – a year’s worth of junk mail that I have sent to my in-laws to avoid having to change my address every 18 months when my nomadic lifestyle says it’s high time to saddle up.
It adds up over the course of a year. A shoebox full of junk mail, flyers, letters from alma maters asking for donations (God bless ‘em); and of course, “The Update” from my faithful financial advisor.
I have a soft spot for my investment guy because his attempts at being positive concerning my approach to “wealth management” make me chuckle.
Along with the report with all the bar graphs and pie charts, I also get a non-denominational holiday card – kids texting while skating on a pond is apparently the new nativity scene – along with cheery handwritten sentiments.
“We had a bang-up year! Would’ve been even better if you actually contributed more…. or even just returned my calls? Anyway, next year’s our year! Could you send me a working phone number?”
Sometimes I feel guilty. I’m not getting any younger. Hell, I’m already sorta old. And while things are more comfortable with two incomes, neither of us can work forever – although if what I’m doing now is considered work then I doubt I’ll mind.
Still, I have to be smart. Be practical. At some point I might want to throw the laptop into the pool and just walk along the beach and step on piss-clams. To do that I should be focusing on building a comfortable nest egg, not blithely ignoring a festering goose egg.
But while I’m motivated, I’m also not worried. Cause life has taught me not to approach things from a position of scarcity.
You can look at life as a competition for scarce resources or plentiful abundance.
The scarcity mentality says to hold onto whatever you have for fear that someone else may take it from you.
It means holding your money, your contacts, your skills, even your time as tightly as you can, lest someone more mercenary than you will snatch it from your weakening grip.
In my business this attitude is everywhere.
Athletes, coaches, and “consultants” marketing themselves to the point of absurdity. Basic trainers trying to take on clients they have no business working with. And talented writers working for hyper-insecure companies that forbid even a basic online presence.
I used to work for a guy that wouldn’t allow anything beyond a personal Facebook page. “We don’t want our employees to become ‘stars’ and steal traffic” was the rationalization.
Operating out of the fear that someone, even a part of your team, will succeed before you do is the epitome of scarcity thinking.
In this case it only succeeded in stifling creativity and chopping ambition off at the knees. Not surprisingly, company morale, at least among the non-sheep, was lower than Gwyneth Paltrow’s latest likeability score.
On the other hand, there’s operating from a place of abundance.
It’s believing that not only is there enough success to go around, but the more you help others grow, the more you’ll grow in return.
This means giving referrals, assistance, pitching off work, or just lending an ear to someone that might need it. It means not focusing on whether your end is met today, but rather believing that some day it all come back to you, and then some.
And it works. As my friend Adam Bornstein likes to say, there is indeed enough for everyone.
I’ve learned that the more I give my skills away to people that need it, the more in demand I am to those who respect what I do and are willing to pay for it. And the more I play matchmaker between an opportunity and someone desperately in need of one, the more my own success grows.
Cause as corny as it may sound, money and success are a lot like love. It only works when you give it away.
You can come up with a figure for how much you need in the bank before you retire. But you can’t assign a dollar value to how you spend your time here or the lives you might positively affect along the way.
In the end, I’d say that, along with health, is the true measure of wealth. My financial guy might even agree with me. But I’d have to call him first.