Have you ever stopped to ask yourself if pushing to achieve more is really the right thing to do or if is it just you being driven by greed?
I feel it is likely you will have contemplated this question at one time or another, especially when you consider the fact we live in a world where some people live like gods and the rest struggle with the basics like food, water, and shelter.
There are often cries on social media for the wealthy to give more. More than the taxes they already pay, jobs and infrastructure they create, and opportunities their success creates for the global economy.
At what point does a person go from being ‘the boy did good’ to ‘they don’t do enough?’
A question that I feel will never truly be answered.
Capitalism is far from a perfect system but it is not a byproduct or creator of greed, that is on us
I think as a group we tend to focus too much on the divide and tutting to ourselves and not enough time trying to solve the problem. The attitude of ‘fuck capitalism’ cannot be sustained over a prolonged period of time because it is just a crutch, a tool on which you can bestow blame and disdain. You and I live in a consumer-based capitalist society. There are rules and etiquette to follow.
There’s a lot to be said for the, “be content with what you’ve got,” crowd. Although, not all of it is good.
Yes, you should absolutely be happy with what you have achieved and earned already in life. That does not mean, however, that you should stay where you are forevermore, that would be stagnation. To achieve stagnation requires just as much energy and time as striving for more, so why choose stagnation instead of growth?
Growth is happiness embodied, it’s not greed
This does not have to be in monetary terms, although more money does open the door for more opportunities. There will be things in your life that you want to excel in, whether it be business or personal, it doesn’t really matter. Psychology describes happiness as the result of momentum towards a goal or outcome in one’s life. It’s not the achievement that makes you happy, it’s the push towards it. The ever-continuing quest to achieve excellence.
To excel requires you to continually strive for more, to continually push to be better, to continually learn and grow. To accept that there will always be better and instead of being deterred by that, allow it to drive you to be better. If you would like to get some help with your growth as an individual and/or as a business then drop me a message on my company website and we can get you booked in for a discovery call to find out how best I can help you. You can do that here https://mikethebizguy.com/contact
Do not poison your mind or body with stagnation
Be happy with what you’ve got and celebrate every win, you must for the sake of your physical and mental health, but never be content enough to stagnate. Stagnation is the most deadly of all poisons to an active mind.
Those people in life that tell you to stop pushing and just be content with what you’ve got have, more often than not, just given up on their own goals and their own ambitions. They will tell you these things with good intentions but that doesn’t change the negative impact that it has on you. Politely tell these people to concentrate on their own existence rather than worrying about yours. That is, of course, a sweeping generalisation which is something I don’t like to do but in this instance it conveys sentiments accurately. No matter the good intentions behind the message, accepting stagnation is never a wise choice.
The attempts to hold you back in safety are almost never malicious
There may be some cases where it is a deliberate attempt on their part to hold you back; but, most of the time it actually comes from a place of good intentions. The nature of the intention aside, the execution is poor and damaging. Stagnation is poison. It is the very opposite of happiness.
Greed is a funny thing. Its official definition is, “an intense and selfish desire for something”, and I have to ask some questions.
When you want something for yourself but it also benefits other people, is it still selfishness and/or greed?
Is it greed or selfishness to have any wants or desires?
Does the label of greed apply to the things you need? Or just the things you want?
Is not the most selfless act of charity still only about making yourself feel good and therefore a selfish act?
Like anything based on emotion, defining greed is murky water to wade in
Selfishness or greed is subjective at best. One could argue that Elon Musk is selfish or greedy but the argument could be made that his endeavours have benefited other people too, if not more so. They have created jobs, wealth, and opportunities for those who would have otherwise not had them. The endeavours of a person like that create momentum within the economy and stability in the lives of individuals.
I used Elon as an example because we all know who he is and what he does. The principles apply to any successful person.
Ditch the idea of greed, embrace the mantra of growth
If you find yourself talking about how such and such (insert name of super-wealthy person here) doesn’t do enough for the world, stop and ask yourself how big and positive your own ripple effect is.
Mr X (the wealthy person) runs a business, maybe even multiple, which employs hundreds of people. Those people then have an income with which they can further contribute to the economy. They use it to buy their food shopping, pay their bills, pay for the professional services they use, and so on. That ripple then carries on through those businesses and services that, themselves, have teams of people working for them.
That is an overly simplified version but for the sake of example, it will suffice.
How does your own ripple compare?
Success is a ripple effect that creates opportunity and positivity, it is not a wave of greed and selfishness
People talk about success with such venom and hostility. But why? Success doesn’t create poverty and it doesn’t create the divide between the rich and the poor. Those are social issues and are separate from the successes of those few who achieve truly monumental success in their field.
I posed the question earlier on in this very piece, when does a person go from being ‘the boy done good’ to ‘they don’t do enough’ I asked this question because it is something that needs to be talked about more.
I have already, briefly, talked about the ripple of wealth and opportunity that stems from the actions of those at the top. That impact, that ripple, is an incredibly positive thing. It is not something to be belittled or feared, it is a wave of positivity.
Those at the top, are they greed fuelled demons?
When we think about the disgusting and immoral thing that is capitalism, from our ivory tower of moral superiority, we think about those at the top of the list. We consider their wealth, their value in a financial world, then we label them as monsters. After all, you don’t get there by being a nice guy, do you?
A friend and I were talking a few weeks ago about this very topic. We were discussing the recent launches of the Virgin Galactic flight and the Blue Origin rocket. At the time there was unending hatred towards these billionaires who launched these rockets so they could have a few precious moments in zero-G. Richard Branson is the figurehead of Virgin Galactic and has a share of around 18% of the company and Jeff Bezos owns the private company Blue Origin.
These two men have almost unimaginable wealth at their fingertips, more so Bezos as he has a value that is in the region of 48 times that of Branson.
We all know who is in the number one spot, but, who sits at number 15?
During our discussion, we got to a question that neither of us could find an answer to until we looked it up. Who is the 15th richest person in the world?
(If you are interested at all, at the time of writing it is Amancio Ortega of the well-known fashion brand Zara.)
The reason we got to this question was not to find out but to highlight that we, human beings, tend to think in terms of scale and extremes. We look to see who the best and the worst are. Those in the middle become blurred by their status as not quite as exceptional as those in the number 1 spot.
Resentment towards the top is seemingly in our nature
As people of the world, we tend to be inclined to seek out power. That quest has many faces and comes in many forms. You might not have aspirations to be the best in the world but the best in your group will still be a target for you, even if you don’t quite realise it.
If we look back through history at all the kings and queens of old it is plain to see that power is a desirable object to chase and one that creates resentment from others when you hold it. There was a time in our history when a new ruler was appointed not because their parent (the previous ruler) had died peacefully of old age, but, because they had been murdered by a rival. Power was taken, not gifted.
The people with no hope of ever achieving such power generally took one of two courses, they looked upon their leader with love and devotion, or more commonly, they looked upon that leader as the source of their pain. They resented those that were in power, as well as the power itself.
In the modern world, very little has changed
It is still the case today that p[ower is rarely gifted but is instead taken by force. It may not take the same appearance as a public beheading but it is something that happens constantly.
Those in the battleground that is the corporate world cut deals, undercut rivals and create a dependency on their continued existence within that space. The people below them look at them as if they are vampires sucking the life out of the lowly poor beneath them In reality, those at the top learned how to play the game and had a good measure of good luck on their side.
When you take those giants out of the boardroom and spend an afternoon with them drinking tea and chatting about crap on the tv you quickly realise that they too are only human. Rarely are average able to get such an opportunity. I think if they did then they would be a little less harsh on those that have sacrificed so much to reach the highs they now experience.
What is your path to power and the life you have always wanted?
How often have you looked upon the world and wanted more? How many times have you looked at someone else and told yourself that you want a piece of what they have? You could, of course, lie to yourself in some virtue signalling BS and say you have never done that. You could. Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean that you should.
As a parent, you look to your peers and those that came before you and hope to do as good a job or better than they did. In your role as an employee, you look to your colleagues and hope to be held in higher regard than them. As a business owner, you look to those in your space and hope to be as good, or better, than them. You want to be the best that you can be in some aspect of your life, which area of your life depends entirely on your values but we all have that same urge to be great.
Greatness is a choice and a commitment
What does it take to be great? I know, what a ridiculously vague question. Let me try and reword that to be a little more specific. What are the required parameters for greatness as you currently see it? What is great from your perspective?
Greatness is unique to whoever is creating the list. What you consider to be a sign of greatness others will dismiss as crass and uncultured. Your list, your rules. So what is it for you? How do you define greatness? And, who do you see in the world that actually measures up in your eyes?
Greatness by any definition isn’t something people are born with. It isn’t a skillset, it’s not a personality type, it is something else entirely. Greatness, as far as I can see it, comes as a result of figuring out what greatness is for you then living your life in a way that accentuates those characteristics and positively impacts the results of the actions you take on a daily basis.
I want more, therefore, I will work towards and achieve much more
I do want more. Do you? Or, are you happy being suffocated by the undeniable stench of stagnation? I want more, I will work hard towards that end. It doesn’t mean I will actually achieve it, it simply means I am willing to do the work and make the sacrifices. I have no aspirations to be a billionaire at all but I do hope to create something that will be able to sustain my family for generations. I have no idea if I will make it but I will never stop trying. If I stop, what purpose do I truly have in this world?
I don’t believe that success is an inherently selfish thing. In fact, I believe that it is those that are content to spend their life in stagnation and criticising those who push that are the selfish ones. To live a life that barely sustains you, and therefore makes you a burden on the world around you, is in my opinion one of the most selfish ways of living your life.
The pursuit of success is not greed, It is not selfish, and it is not in any way negative. It is simply the vehicle on which growth as an individual is crafted.
Final thoughts before I go
If you read this article and found that it has spoken to you then you are not alone. I have shared my thoughts in one way or another before and it has always been met by two types of response. Those that, like you, are on board with living a life of potential excellence and joy that support the message and use it to help guide them. Then there’s the other response I get, the down with those at the top. The off with their heads sentiment.
It is always fascinating to me to see who falls on which side of the line and why. I have found a trend though, those with zero intention of making their life better in any way tend to fall into the hating on the success side of the line. That is fine, we are each entitled to our opinions but I do feel for them. How deeply unhappy do you have to be to spend your life training to tear others down rather than building yourself up.
If this is you then it may be worth looking into increasing your own self-awareness so that you can feel a little better and be able to see a way out of your current situation. I have written before about that, you can find it here https://mybizacademy.co.uk/be-more-self-aware-its-not-hard