Money, Motivation, Success and Who?
It was 7:30 on a
Saturday morning, and I was setting up to do the opening
keynote for the
conference. For some reason—I
have no idea why—the
sound man thought his ten year old daughter would enjoy my presentation. He'd
brought her with him to work.
Watching her father wiring this and plugging in that, the girl was soon
as bored as only a ten year old can be. Eventually, she sauntered over to me.
"So who are you?" she demanded.
"I’m Barry Maher."
Overwhelmingly unimpressed, she asked, "And who the heck is Barry
"I’m the speaker."
"Is that a big deal?"
I laughed. "Not apparently to you."
"Not if all you do is speak. Everyone speaks. Even my little brother
speaks, and he’s an idiot." Sighing dismissively, she spun and walked away, in
search of something—anything—more
"And who are you?" I don't want to get particularly philosophical here,
but obviously that's the most basic question we all face.
So who are you? Aside from being CEO of Amalgamated Amalgamates,
that is. If your self worth is dependent upon your work, I would suspect you
might be heading for a fall, sooner or—at
the very least—-later,
when retirement comes. There's more to you than what you do for a living. Or at
least there should be.
I’m not my job and neither are you. No matter how successful or how
unsuccessful we might be at those jobs. We all know some big career successes
who are very unsuccessful people. And some who are very unhappy. None of us
should be surprised that there are some very successful and very happy people—great
friends, loving spouses, wonderful role models for their children—who
have never cashed a big paycheck.
"His picture hangs on every wall," one self-described peon said of the
company's chairman of the board. "His name is invoked in reverential tones. But
aside from making himself very rich, what does he really do for the world?
Besides making it safe for one more set of unnecessary, environmentally
devastating, energy wasting products."
"He's helping to perpetuate a lot of jobs," I answered. "Yours
"He is. But judging by the happiness the people around here seem to be
getting from those jobs, they may not be eulogizing him at his funeral for
Tip: If you’re not
impressed by your own career thus far, you might still be better off than you
would be if you were successful by the standard definition of success.
Especially if that's not really your definition.
A friend of mine once said of his business partner, "He's given up his
life in the single-minded pursuit of wealth. And now, wealth is all he has. So
he obsesses about losing it. Since he never had a life, he has no idea of what
to do with his money, even if he had time to enjoy it, which he doesn't because
he's so accustomed to the treadmill he can't even imagine getting off. Of
course, the beautiful thing about the pursuit of money is that you've never got
enough. So he keeps on chasing it, simply because he as no idea of what else to
do with his life."
I like money is much as anyone, more than many. And a big title
impresses. (It especially impresses small minds, those we're least interested in
impressing.) But we should never forget, this is business: quid pro quo. We
always have to measure the value of what we're getting against the value of what
we're giving up.
Who are you? And who do you really want to be?
© Copyright 2013, 2009, B.E. Maher,
Las Vegas, Nevada
Sign up for our newsletter
Return to newsletter archive
Find Me on Google+