Having money’s not everything. Not having it is. – Kanye West
Should I emphasize building wealth here on BML?
This is a question I’ve been wrestling with recently. Specifically, is building wealth an integral part of launching a life that matters?
Finding fulfillment for yourself and making a difference for others are the first two tenants of launching a life that matters.
But should I include building wealth as a third tenant?
Having Money’s Not Everything
I grew up in an affluent suburb of Philadelphia and went to private school. I knew a lot of rich people. Many of them, in fact most of them were unhappy.
Rich people are dysfunctional. And having a lot of stuff doesn’t fix that.
As a teen, I would openly say that I didn’t want to make any significant money when I grew up. It just seemed to make people miserable. This drove my mom nuts.
In hindsight, there was a nugget of truth in my thinking, but in all honesty, I was naive.
Not Having It Is
After college I lived and worked in Oakland, as a part of a community service program. I worked at a homeless shelter as well as at a youth outreach center.
I met a lot of poor people. Many of them, in fact most of them were unhappy.
Poor people are dysfunctional. And not having money doesn’t fix that.
By the second year of my service, I became one of those poor people. I wasn’t making enough money to support myself and pay rent. I had medical bills that I couldn’t pay.
It was nerve racking, and I was miserable.
And frankly, I still had a much bigger safety net through my personal network than any of the people that I served.
I promised myself that I would never be poor like that.
Wealth Is More Than Money
It’s true. Having money’s not everything. Not having it is.
It’s clear that money is needed but it’s also clear that money is not a sufficient end goal.
Perhaps then, it’s best to look at money as a utility. Something that is used (for better or worse) to achieve other things.
The more I have thought about it, the more I am convinced that wealth (not money) is a worthy end goal. Here’s a definition of wealth that I am working with:
Wealth is having an abundance of freedom to live life fully and serve others deeply.
Part of that freedom is financial freedom, no doubt.
You can increase financial freedom in one of two ways:
- Make more money
I am a huge fan of simplifying because it makes life easier to manage and focuses me on what matters. I am also a fan of making money because it can open new doors and provide new opportunities.
I’m just not a fan of becoming a slave to your money.
Therefore, I am coming to realize that it’s not just acceptable but it’s imperative that we emphasize wealth here on BML.
That we talk about how to make more money and keep an eye on simplicity. That we talk about how to best utilize money to live life fully and serve others deeply.
And so yes, I think building wealth is a worthwhile tenant of living a meaningful life.
What are your thoughts? Do you distinguish between wealth and money? Is building wealth a worthwhile third tenant?