“Money is the root of all evil.” That’s the way most people remember this quote. The correct verbiage is, “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil” (1 Timothy 6:10).
I’m not here preaching a bible lesson so don’t go running away yet. What I’m talking about is how chasing money in business can be counterproductive to both personal and professional success.
Making money is a necessary outcome of working for most of the world. We have to pay bills, buy groceries and fund endless sports camps and dance lessons. It still begs the question; why and how do you make that money, what’s your motivation or inspiration, and how’s that working for you?
The business landscape of today is drastically different than it was 20, or even 10, years ago. Many businesses today are started with a philanthropic focus because of a passion to help others (think TOMS, Gogo Water, Good Spread). Employees want to work at these businesses because it nurtures the soul. Sometimes people start a business or sell a product because they believe it’s the coolest most unique thing on the planet (check out Simple Sugars, Lolla Cup, and Scrub Daddy). These are reasons that keep people motivated and inspired. It keeps them going even when the going gets tough. Joy and happiness survive even in the face of failure. A higher purpose is being served. Making money or earning a paycheck is a byproduct of the work effort but not the reason for it.
Sometimes though you run into people that are in their given business or profession solely to make money—and the more, the better. Don’t get me wrong, making money is awesome. I highly recommend it. We need to look no further than businessmen and humanitarians Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, or Chuck Feeny to see how making lots of money can serve a higher purpose. But rarely, if ever have I known of a truly happy and fulfilled person whose single focus was simply accumulating wealth and “stuff”.
What I’ve observed is that the single pursuit of a paycheck usually manifests itself in negative ways. People “in it for the money” are often unhappy (or even depressed) and uninspired yet behave with self-promotion and bravado. Sad, bored, and disengaged employees put in their hours, day after day, collecting a paycheck and just waiting to retire, bound by the proverbial “golden handcuffs”. Money people make skewed decisions leaning toward what is monetarily beneficial rather than what is right. Integrity be damned in pursuit of the mighty dollar. It’s great when you can have both but often these two results are contradictory. Rather than being generous, money seekers are most concerned with getting their fair share of the “pie”, which to them, is never big enough to go around.
On the flip side, working with a purpose and passion brings fulfillment and joy. Doing business with humility and gratitude is a reward all by itself. Building the bonds of relationships is an important driver of both success AND happiness. Giving up the big paycheck, corner office, and company car in exchange for loving what you do and making a difference is life changing—in the BEST way possible. When you do what you love for the right reasons all kinds of abundance follows.
In the end what we have matters little compared to who we are. We all leave behind a legacy. Leave behind something meaningful.