Money is the Root…
Money (and hopefully profit) is the cornerstone of business. Almost every business has one underlying goal: to make money. While there are many reasons why people do what they do, helping people, providing education, making the world a better place, etc., but it takes money to do any of these things. To succeed at these other lofty goals, it takes money to make it happen. Even non-profit and government agencies rely on making money in order to survive. And of course, many not-for-profits and government agencies pay their executives lofty salaries to keep the money coming in and their programs operating.
People often quote scripture incorrectly when suggesting, “Money is the root of all evil.” The actual words used in the Bible are, “The love of money is the root of all evil.” Big difference. I have to admit that I really, really, really like money. I would almost say I love it but I’m not what you would call a money-at-all-costs kind of individual. There are many people who are though. Some are successful and lead successful business (even if only for a while like Enron and Worldcom) and many are not successful, usually because they don’t manage money well. The primary difference between lovers and “likers” of money is that likers of money don’t change all that much once they have it. Lovers of money seem to change drastically. Really, though, the money doesn’t change them, it just brings out something that has always been in them and made it more apparent. Henry Ford is quoted as saying, “Money doesn’t change men, it merely unmasks them. If a man is naturally selfish, or arrogant, or greedy, the money brings it out; that’s all.” How true.
Many people want to feel success but they can’t tell you why, nor what they would do with their money once they make it. We often see this in people who win millions in a lottery. You’d think they would be set for life, but frequently the money’s gone in just a few short years. These are people who loved money more than they loved financial security, or long-term Independence. I recently watched a reality television program where one guy said he deserved to win the $1.5 at stake because he was forty years old, still working as a temp and “needs it more than anybody else.” I’m sorry, but the reason this guy doesn’t have money is because he doesn’t deserve to have it. And if he got it I have no doubt that in a short time he’d be back in the same position that he’s in now.
Maybe there is something to the parable in the Bible where Jesus said to take the dollar (I’m paraphrasing here) from the guy who only had one and give it to the guy who had twenty. Of course if you read earlier in that story, the guy with twenty dollars started with ten, the guy with ten dollars started with five and the guy with one dollar started with only one. He’s the only one who did nothing with his money. He hadn’t invested it, didn’t start a business with it or otherwise use it to help him increase what he was give.
You can often tell what kind of a person someone is by seeing what they would do for money. A recent poll asked what people would do for $10 million. Here is how the results broke down:
- 25% would abandon their entire family
- 23% would become a prostitute for a week or more
- 16% would give up their American citizenship
- 16% would leave their spouse
- 10% would withhold testimony and let a murderer go free
- 7% would kill a stranger
- 3% would put up their children up for adoption
- <1% would do none of the above
How many of those would you do for $10M?
There is an old joke about a man at a dinner party who turns to the woman next to him and asked her if she’d go to bed with him for a million dollars. For $1,000000, she said she would. He then asked if she’d do it for $5. “What kind of person do you think I am!!!” she exclaimed. The man calmly replied, “We’ve already established WHAT you are. Now we’re just quibbling over the price.”
And this is why the love of money is the root of evil. Because those who love money tend to love it over all other things, including their family, society and many times even their own lives. Money doesn’t change a person; it just might require a little more to get their true nature to show!
So why do you want to be successful and make lots of money? That’s what we business owners are in business for, right? So what is your underlying goal and what are you willing to do for money, or wiling to do once you have it?
Would I like to be wealthy? You bet. I wouldn’t complain one bit. But I can also tell you why I want to be wealthy. Nothing as grand as saving the planet, but I do want to be able to provide for my family, donate to charities and provide something of value to those within my sphere of influence. Would I be a different person if I suddenly had $10 million? Probably not. I’d probably do the same things I’m doing now; provide for my family, donate to charities and providing something of value to those within my sphere of influence. Of course there’s nothing wrong with doing that while living in a bigger home and driving a nicer car!
What’s the moral of this story? Maybe it’s that success in life isn’t always about how much money you make but what you do with the money you have. And what you do with the little bit of money you have now is exactly what you’ll do with a lot of money you might get later. You know what’s important to you by what you spend your money one today.