BLOGNAME: LOUDER THAN WORDSAn informal, stream-of-consciousness reflection on business ideas, events and issues in modern business, modern life and with some specifics to the web-software industry by Paul Tomori, Internet Entrepreneur
|Baby, You're A Rich Man|
By Paul Tomori
Thursday, September 03, 2009 at 05:11:45 (EDT)
Lying in bed after an early morning baby feed today, I could not help but reflect on the many good things in my life. My mom would have called it "counting my blessings". I have good health, an excellent marriage, a happy-healthy-curious little boy, a brand new healthy baby, good friends, a successful and satisfying (though always challenging) career in business and enough financial resources to keep everything afloat.
In Max Ehrmann's Desiderata, he wrote that there will always be people who are better off and people who are worse off. The implication is that one should measure one's self against an internal play-card (i.e. are you living up to your potential or are you squandering your inherent wealth?). If you drive a Porsche, you may be financially richer than the guy who drives a Honda. If you drive a Honda, you may be financially richer than the girl who drives an old Cavalier and she may be richer than the guy who only has a bicycle. The guy with the bicycle is richer than the guy who can't afford one and must walk everywhere. But, he who walks is, in many senses, richer than the person who is physically disabled.
Yet, I once knew a lady who in her latter years could not walk at all and who was one of the happiest people I have met. She was happier than most of the financially wealthy people I have come to know. In that sense, was she not vastly richer?
I will never forget how that lady's own brother (and his family) robbed her blind of her rightful share of ownership in their father's family business. She is gone now and to this day, they still have not righted that injustice. The door remains open to them... Until then, how impoverished of human decency they are. Clearly, their view of richness is distorted and warped. Consequently, they now reap what they have sowed through unending family conflict, in-fighting, divorce and absurd pettiness.
So, really, what does it mean to be rich? Is the scale so narrow as to only include monetary measures? To me, it's so much more than having big bank accounts, though clearly, some level of financial strength is a necessity. Don't get me wrong - I think it is important to have ambitious financial goals and rock-solid plans for achieving them. But, I remember one of my good friend's father, a man who had achieved considerable financial success, stating that he would trade every penny of his financial success for the restoration of the good health of youth. He died just a few years later and the impact of his death re-confirmed his words to me. The eloquent Don Henley said "you don't see hearses with luggage racks". In that sense, one of the richest (financially speaking) living men in the world, 79 year-old Warren Buffett is very poor in terms of his longevity prospects. If given the choice, I would take being half his age and stone broke any day, yet would still consider myself richer.
People who know me know that I don't buy lottery tickets (never have) and I don't gamble. No, I am not a tea-totaling holy-roller, though if you are one, then more power to you (if you are truly happy that way!). From an early age, I always knew that I had already won the lottery on the day I was born. I say this with the utmost humility, because, if you are able to read this blog entry, then you very likely won the lottery when you were born too! Like me, you were probably born healthy... to caring parents... with reasonable financial means... in a country that respects human rights... You were born in a place where basic education would be handed to you... You were born at a time when a complete infrastructure of transportation and communication was to be available to you... When modern production created all the basic goods you would need... When most of the diseases of the past had been brought under control.... etc.... etc.. All the resources one could need to forge their own way were (and are) all readily available to you. Generations of people before us created all this richness. We were born into it. We won that lottery. The question now is: are you capitalizing on your born richness or are you squandering that wealth?
In the words of Lennon-McCartney, tell me: "How does it feel to be one of the beautiful people? - Baby, you're a rich man". Count your blessings.
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