There’s an incredible story in the New York Times of a greedy, power-driven stock market trader who gave it all up. Sam Polk wrote about his journey that started in college and ended as the head of a non-profit, with a profitable stop on Wall Street on the way there.
What makes his story amazing and a great read is how he discovered how addicted he was to money and the power that seemed to come with it. He said he was a “giant fireball of greed.” He overcame an intense drug addiction to realize that it was just replaced by money addiction.
He says many people in his former profession are wealth addicts, always chasing after money, without attaining satisfaction.
I find this a lot in business. People get addicted to success and they translate that to money. Success is partly about money. It’s one of the ways we keep score. But there will always be someone richer, smarter, or better looking than you.
I define success as being able to support my family at something I love doing. I call it being happily successful. But it’s also important to realize that life is about more than just work and money. It’s all the other stuff that happens. For me it’s karate, my family, traveling, and going to the beach house.
It’s also important to pay attention to the small things. Instead of constantly pursuing something bigger and not being satisfied with what’s already been achieved, look at what’s already there. For instance, it’s been freezing in Chicago, and just having decent heat is great. Many people take that for granted. I remember years ago telling my friend Bob Okabe that my biggest luxury in life was having someone clean my bathroom. He reminded me that for most of the world, the biggest luxury is having a bathroom!
Are you a wealth addict or have a myopic focus? Take a break and look around: what do you have that you appreciate?