Money, money, money

By D.J. Vanas
News From Indian Country November 2010

I often hear people say that money is the root of all evil. However, this oft-misquoted biblical text actually says it’s the “love of money” that can be our undoing. Few subjects are as emotionally charged as the concept of money – earning it, spending it, investing it, losing it, dreaming about it, wanting it… needing it.  

We live in a society that is oftentimes contradictory, and at other times absurd, in the way we view money. If we pay a person $25 million a year to play a game, we don’t bat an eye. But if a teacher gets more than $50k a year, they are accused of being in it for the money. We love it, we hate others with it, we get inspired by it, we dream about it, fear for a lack of it and yet have problems we could have never imagined when we suddenly get lots of it (study the Lottery effect and how many families are torn apart through feuding and fighting once a family member wins the lottery).

On the other hand, a lack of money can cause our undoing as well. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and that can translate into poor decision-making or worse. We have all seen people do terrible things because their lack of money makes them desperate – then they lie, steal or cheat to get it. 

Here are a few ideas to gain perspective on this heavily charged subject:

Money is a tool, not the ultimate goal – a homebuilder’s goal is not to collect a beautiful set of tools, but to build a beautiful home. Why do you want money? To eat it, ride in it, lay with it or let it teach your kids its wisdom? Of course not. Money is a means to an end, not the end in itself.  It’s simply a tool that can help you build and do other things. If you are in doubt on this one, consider this…

I hear conversations all the time that revolve around this idea – “if I was rich, I’d be happy and all my problems would be over.” I have a friend named Dan who bought several thousand shares of inexpensive stock in the company that employed him. The shares were bought at less than twenty-five cents a piece – and traded at $68 per share when his company went public! Dan was an instant multi-millionaire. He paid off his mom’s house, bought her a car and paid off his student loans. He quit his job, traveled throughout Asia and Europe and stayed with friends all over the US. After a year, he was bored out of his mind.  Dan went back to work to connect with the highest human need – not to have millions, but to feel valued and useful. 

Money is a by-product. When we align our talent and ability with our passion, we pursue excellence and money has a way of finding us in return. Money is merely a by-product of success, a residual effect of effort. When we chase money for its own sake, it can become the quickest way to chase it away. Don’t make it the sole reason for your work or your days will quickly become frustrating or worse... boring.

Bottom line – keep money in perspective and don’t let the media drive you to twist your perspective to match theirs. After all your worth is not found in your bank accounts or the car you drive. Your worth is found the fact that you are... you.