Money is a good servant but a bad master. That’s been my belief and that’s how I have led my life. I am a minimalist & keep my ‘luxuries’ to a minimum. I had a car, I don’t have one now. I had a TV, I don’t have one now. I don’t own a dvd player or a bose stereo system or an Ipad or an imac/macbbook. I sleep on a mattress on the floor and everyday, for the past 4 years,I have eaten the same protein shake(indian) for breakfast. Yes, I do own a kindle because I read everyday, I own some nice running shoes because I run everyday, I own a reasonably expensive GPS watch because I train everyday. For the rest, my needs have always been simple.
I have never equated success with money. Yes, I do wish to earn more & I am happy that I am earning more each year. I believe money to be an add on benefit when you succeed professionally. I have never ever believed that my success was equivalent to the money I made. Saying that, is it because I don’t make money that I am declaring ‘the grapes sour’. No, my company was valued at a million+ dollars about 3 years back. We are now several times larger & I still have not diluted any stake. Was I excited when I was valued at a million dollars plus. No. I always wanted to create value, a legacy, I wanted to make a impact in the world. My goal was never only to make money with the company. My goal has always been to make an impact, create a legacy. When I sailed as a sport, I was successful without making money. Winning events was being successful as a sportsman.
I believe that life is a combination of several aspects. Personal, social, health, family, professional, cultural and societal and not one aspect defines me. To be successful personally, I would need to succeed in all aspects of my life. I need to be physically fit ‘and’ I need to have healthy personal relations ‘and’ I need to be a supportive friend ‘and’ I need to be a good son ‘and’ I need to succeed with my company ‘and’ I need to be a good employer ‘and’ I need to learn new languages ‘and’ dances’and’ do drama’and’ write ‘and’ run fast ‘and’ I need to contribute to society. Life is an ‘and’. Not an ‘or’. Even when I achieve success in any of these aspects, for eg, I run a 10k in 38 minutes, I reset my goal and get back to working on the new goal. The goalpost has shifted. I am continuously learning, evolving, improving. Aim is to to be excellent, not perfect. Do I make mistakes?. Yes, everyday, and I do my utmost to learn from them. I aim to be ‘purposeful’ each day. My ‘journey’ is far more important than the destination. The destination is always going to change each time I arrive at it.
The genesis of this post comes from a discussion I had recently. I was surprised and shocked that most in the discussion agreed that money was the indicator of success. I wondered if it was just ‘that’ company or was I out of sync?. A social worker who selflessly spends hours alleviating the suffering of the poor, is a failure because their bank balance is nothing to speak about? Didn’t history’s greatest artists, composers, musicians, writers, poets, philosophers die paupers. Aren’t they successful for the legacy they left behind?
In my company, we deliver our products to all NGO’s & charities at cost. We also sometimes underwrite part of the cost. Why do we do this? My contribution to society is selfish. I realized that self made wealthy entrepreneurs soon focused most of their time to making an impact in this world. Making money, growing their company were no longer satisfying. Entrepreneurs like Bill Gates, Nanden Nilenkani never get tired of making a positive impact in the world. Young newly wealthy entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg have quickly learnt that making an impact in the world is what gives the most purpose in life.
I am merely trying to benefit from gaining a meaningful purpose at the earliest. Some purposes like running a 37 minute 10 kilometre race might be short termed, some like having 10 million dollars in my bank may be more time consuming &yet not very satisfying. However, making an impact in the world will always be satisfying and a journey which shall never end.