“Money was never a big motivation for me, except as a way to keep score. The real excitement is playing the game.” – Donald Trump
I don’t like Donald Trump but I have always found this quote fascinating. In many ways, that is how our society views money. Take someone like Trump who is very clearly losing in all the ways that matter but he (alone) considers himself a winner because he has lots of money. His self-worth is so tied to his cash flow that if you remind him of pesky little facts like those times he filed for bankruptcy he goes ballistic. See Trump vs Rosie as the prime example.
(I really regret putting that pic of Trump up there because now I have to stare at his stupid face the whole time I write this post. Poor planning, DePiano.)
On a societal level, it’s much the same. We tend to reward and revere the rich while punishing and reviling the poor. Becoming rich and making a lot of money has been idealized to the point where it’s what many of us strive for and imagine will solve all of our problems. Never mind the evidence and the wise words of one Notorious B.I.G.* that Mo Money = Mo Problems, many view someone with lots of money as winning the game of life.
As business people, we have to walk a fine line. Obviously, if our company isn’t making enough money, we’re just wasting our time and putting us (and our families) in financial danger. But the bottom line isn’t the last line when it comes to the measure of a life, so is it really a good way to measure?
If your eBay business doesn’t make much but it’s enough to allow you to stay home with an ailing parent, aren’t you still winning if that’s what’s important to you? If your Etsy sales only just break even but they let you continue a hobby that you love, are you really a loser in the game of life? If you sell just enough books to let you live your life your own way, however humbly that may be, do you deserve scorn?
Of course not. But even if you know that truth in your heart, it can be hard to remember it when you’re looking at your bank account or watching some celebrity doing the tabloid equivalent of this:
I think what it comes down to is this: If you’re winning, you know you are. You don’t need to know what your “score” is versus anyone else. You know it by how you feel.
And that’s all there is to it.
*=I had to look up who’s song that was, lest you think I have any street cred at all.