“So, what, I buy another car, or house, or plane, then what?” He asked me.
“That’s exactly my point,” I responded.
“It’s lame isn’t it…”
Still too often I hear seemingly ambitious types talking like rap stars about the G650 that they so desperately wish to own.
Of course few will ever make “yacht money,” and some who do will end up just as unfulfilled as the others.
I’m never surprised when I hear about another billionaire who’s all messed up, with their drink or trophies or insecurities or stupid money being thrown around on this or that.
When you can buy whatever you want, where’s the excitement in getting that new thing?
In the dripping in oil rich Arab countries where you’re “bored” into money you see the extreme desperation of the rich.
Prominent license plates cost more than the custom Ferraris and Lambos they’re pasted on—this sad man paid $14.3mm for his #1 license plate—because bored people “spend” their lives playing status games.
5 Houses Is Just As Boring As 1
It’s not complicated, in fact, it’s very straightforward.
Our species is mostly messed up because our primitive reptilian brain gets a boner from having status over others.
If we are richer, have a nicer house, a faster car, a hotter lover, pricier booze, and of course a better license plate, in our ape-like minds, we win!
Yay! Look at me. My house is bigger than yours, and I have five of them, yet I can only live in one room at a time, so I’m just as bored…
No amount of square footage will elevate you on the Forbes list, nor fill a black hole of insecurity, so the status games are played all the way to the grave.
Never Built Anything
Some people who’ve built incredibly successful careers feel something is missing because they perceive they’ve never “built anything.”
Yet, a massive problem for those who’ve built something is that word “built.”
Nobody builds something of value easily, and that’s exactly why it’s so thrilling.
When climbers reach the top of Everest they don’t hang around and have a picnic. They climb back down and wonder which peak they’ll scale next.
They never climbed the mountain so they could hang out at the top, but because of who they became in clawing their way up.
Builders build, they get bored looking at what they’ve already built. Lacking worthy goals they get sucked into status games.
Regular folks dream to be millionaires. Centimillionaires so desperately wish to be billionaires. Billionaires only hope to no longer be “worthless” than the person on the Forbes list above them.
The Meaning Was Never There
We all know that the greatest source of human fulfillment is meaning.
And the greatest problem for many rich and successful people is that they’ve done it in a way that lacks meaning.
The rich celebrity kids and trust funders exemplify the extreme of a wasted life, which is why you see those lunatics leading by example on reality TV.
Yet even many people who’ve made their own money have worked in meaning-starved careers or built meaning-starved businesses which of course leaves them hungry for more.
Great success and dollars in the bank is hardly a substitute for doing something of great meaning, so many of them die questioning what it was all about.
Is what it’s all about.
Again, we all know that the top of the tree of human fulfillment is selfless meaning—being in service to the all, something much greater than ourselves.
Yet how many of us have found it?
The billionaires who’ve pledged to give their money away when they die are halfway there, but they’d feel a heck of a lot more meaning if they could experience their giving in this lifetime.
He already gives the most yet it’s desperately sad that Warren Buffett will bleed out most of his wealth after he dies, when he could unlock the greatest joy in his life giving more away now.
Even then, putting your name on something to be remembered or writing checks only takes you so far relative to rolling up your sleeves and doing something of great meaning.
Money Can’t Buy You Meaning
When I started this work nearly 20 years ago I had no idea where it would lead me.
I only knew that something big was missing in my career on Wall Street, and I needed to go in search of it.
This journey has been the hardest, most back-breaking, mind-busting, fear-inducing, thrilling adventure I could never have imagined.
Time and time again it put me on one knee. I had to face my insecurities. To wrestle with making no money, and what that would mean.
It meant I had to search deeply for what truly matters, to build, serve, and find my greatest meaning.