Bob is a senior manager in a multinational company. When you look at Bob, you can tell he has a very well-paying job. It screams at you from afar with his designer clothes, his car and his air of self-importance. Say you get to spend a day with Bob to learn more about who he is. Maybe you are a journalist working on a feature about him. This is what you will learn: about his membership in prestigious clubs, the kind of homes he owns and lives in, the cars that he drives or is acquiring, the schools that his children go to, the exotic holidays he has gone on, the business travel in first class, the people in high places he knows, and of course the huge plans he has for the company he works in.
He will take you to the finest restaurant and drink nothing but the finest whisky. If you are clueless about whisky he will ensure that you know it is the finest brand.If you spend a day with Bob, you will be impressed with his status and material belongings. However, you will not know anything about who he is. It is the kind of interaction that leaves you wondering who Bob is behind the façade of cars, influential connections, lifestyle, and job title. By the way he talks and what he says about himself, you can tell that he completely identifies with his image and what he has.Bob cannot imagine and neither does he think he can survive without the trappings that his job has provided. Though he will not show it, his worst fear is losing the source of his lifestyle i.e. his job and, hence, losing the respect and status that come with it. What does Bob want in life? To Bob, the answer is always to make more money to secure this lifestyle. Even his children know they do not see Daddy much because he is out there making money. Now let us look at Jack. Jack runs a very successful business. He makes more money than Bob. He has a nice house too.
His children also go to great schools. He has a fancy car as well but during the week he prefers to drive his pick-up because that is more practical for his business.He has all the material niceties that Bob has, but if you spend a day with Jack with the aim of doing the same feature you did on Bob, he will not tell you about material things. Instead, he will tell you how he grew up. He will talk about his business. How he started it from zero and how it got to where it is today. He will speak about the challenges faced as well as the victories.
He will tell you about his family. Probably how he met his wife. He will tell you what she does. He will tell you about his children; not so much that they go to high-end schools, but what they are learning, what they are good at, and what their hobbies are.He knows this because he spends time with them. He may talk about his travels and what they have taught him.He will talk about the people he has met in his life that have left an impression on him. So that you know more about him and who he is, you will probably have this discussion in his business premises so that he can give you a better idea of what he has built.
He will serve you tea himself. You may not leave that interview with all the information about what Jack actually has, but you will know who Jack is.Jack has everything and more that Bob has, but it is not the basis of his identity. What makes Jack is not his money or car.Jack can imagine a life without the status and he knows he will be all right. What does Jack want in life? Probably to leave a legacy.
Now let’s look at your life. Are you Bob or Jack? You may not have everything they do, but are you thinking like Bob or Jack?Have you placed your anchor in money, like Bob? You have if you think more money is the solution for everything in your life.Money, cars, job, status, and attention from people are not a constant. All these things are fickle and can disappear tomorrow.Who you are without the money is what is constant. Bob without the money is insecure and fearful. He thinks more money gives him security and respect.Bob equates what he owns with who he is. Listening to Bob, you would think that life is all about getting to this end game of image acquisition.
However, listening to Jack, you learn that life is about growth, processes, and the character that forms as you go through it.He is telling you about himself and what he has learned, the process he has been through and not what he has.From his conversation his values are obvious i.e. his family. To Jack, who he has become in the process (and not what he has) is who he is.The money can go but the character remains. The character is what can get you up again. Character is who you are when nobody is watching (and when nobody is inflating your ego for having the right size of bank account).
Unfortunately our society is listening to more of Bob and less of Jack. There are too many people being admired for what they own materially (and they are enjoying it) rather than what they stand for in life.Anchor yourself in the right thing. You do not really want to live a life where your own sense of value or confidence is dependant on the amount of money you have.
Before we leap into the new year, ask yourself: Who am I without the money or job title, or status?