Many of us have grown up with lessons that portray money as evil, or at least as the root of evil. People who want a lot of money are bad and greedy. They are manipulative scum that take advantage of everyone else. This weekend, I had the privilege of meeting and listening to a number of these scumbag millionaires, and in some cases, billionaires. Remarkably, none of them were ruthless sleazy business men who took advantage of others to get where they were. Quite to the contrary, they were all people who had been taken advantage of and were seeking to add a great deal of value to the world. They created products and services to help others succeed. Granted, some products were better than others, but the products were universally value-adding objects that were designed to help people.
One of the speakers I listened to said something brilliant, and it’s the title of this post. The reality is that wanting a lot of money is not equivalent to greed. Most people want to be rich, and denying that desire is a very harmful emotional exercise. Not to mention, the people who are ready to admit that they want money are the ones who seem to end up really making that money.
So where does this perception of evil come from? One of the people I had the pleasure of meeting with explained it this way, “Money isn’t the root of all evil. The lust for money isn’t even the root of all evil. It’s the lust for unearned money that is the root of all evil.” People who want money without the will to work for it are the scum that everyone talks about. The reality is that there are many very wealthy people who have worked hard providing excellent quality services and contributing to the world. They have generated their net worth through ethical and legal means which do not seek to exploit others. On the other hand, there are many people who do quite the opposite.
The thing that both these groups have in common is that they want money, but that’s about it. This is the first group of very rich people I have seen stress the importance of striving to be a member of the group that has a love of earned money that one needs to work hard for. Money is not the antithesis of happiness, and you needn’t sacrifice your happiness to earn all the piles of money that you want, so long as you actually earn them.
I’m going to leave you with another little snippet from this weekend, and I hope it sits with you, “There are a ton of multi-millionaires in the world. People always ask, “Yeah, but are they happy?” …..Well, no shit, of course they’re happy, they’re multi-millionaires.”