The best way to make money work for you

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(40 seconds to read)

Money influences government. But really, it influences almost everything. Because we like money.

Most everyone’s actions are fundamentally driven by it. Moneyed elite? They are elite because we like their money. Not because they’re elite by some inherent power from the money itself. Our reaction to money gives them their power.

It’s never been about us versus them, or them versus us. The class-warfare argument that divides us never seems to go away, because our love for money hasn’t gone away. But it’s never been about money.  It’s about how we value money.

It’s always been about us. All of us, as a human society.


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“Do you want in?” she asked.

Mr burns

“What’s that?” I said.
“We’re buying powerball tickets.”
“Ah, no thanks,” I told her.
Then I heard some of my co-workers talking about what they’d do if they won the money.
“The first thing I’d do is pay off my house..” one man said. “Then I’d set aside money to pay for my kids’ college, and then..I’d figure out what I really want to do with my life.”
I felt kind of sick to my stomach after hearing this.

In this day and age, having our biological needs met, the things we think we need are now the things we think we need to pay for, which is quite the opposite of the truth.

Career has become a situation of the estranged…a process to acquire money, a separate experience that is not about developing the self, but about developing a portfolio. A job that is donned, like a coat, and then taken off at the end of the day. Or maybe we never take it off, because we’re scared to look at ourselves naked.

We may even enjoy playing that dressup, but we’re tethered to that custume, it has become our birthday suit. We come to embrace our raises instead of our colleagues, and perhaps we only tolerate them because we cannot will ourselves to jump off the safety of this ship. We think we don’t have the strength and the stamina to swim to a place where our career ceases to be work, where we stop working to live and instead start living to work.

But our ability to compromise is powerful. It’s one of our greatest strengths, and maybe also our greatest weakness.

Work hard. Play harder… because without it, work becomes an uninspired trial, waiting for the play of the weekends and vacations. But make work and play inseparable, and you are in the best situation of all, waiting on nothing, and instead living every minute.

Sofia Vergara doesn’t care about your biceps

Sofia-Vergara

I walked into the gym the other day and looked for a cage. The cage is mainly for squats and deadlifts. Those are the exercises that form the foundation of my workouts. But from what I’ve seen in the gym over the years, the most popular exercise for guys is the bicep curl, which it was for me many years ago. Polishing the guns, in every way possible. Standing or seated, barbell or dumbbells.

Sometimes when I see bicep curls being done, I’m reminded of a conversation between an old girlfriend and me. She said that she sees guys doing those exercises in the gym while staring at themselves in the mirror. She said, “I think they’re in there doing it just for themselves.”

I disagreed: “They do it to be more attractive to females.”

But now I think she was right.

This focus on the thing, the form, and not the person, is clearly seen in marketing (big surprise). Sofia Vergara prefers soda pop to men in her diet Pepsi commercials. And the guys in beer commercials pass up the girl for beer. This should be funny because it runs against what we do in real life. But does it actually? Do we chase stuff, like the job, money, beer, or bigger biceps, over relationships? Do we spend more time getting a paycheck and attractive physiques or more time learning to have a conversation, more time trying to connect and build relationships?

Building up a bank account or body is in many ways easier than building a solid relationship, but it won’t get us the kind of people we need in our lives. These kinds of commercials and my days in the gym remind of this almost every day. The challenge is getting into the habit to focus on what others want and what they do. This genuine curiosity can’t come from a place of insecurity, and security doesn’t come from external wealth. It comes from you knowing who you are, and accepting who you are, so all the attention that would otherwise be tied up in stabilizing yourself can be turned outward. I think when that happens, people realize you care about them. And that’s what it’s about in the end…being valued.

And putting diet Pepsi and big biceps in their proper place.

Remove the money gag

How would you rate the following in importance?

-Tax breaks for gay and straight married couples
-Wall Street banks paying fines a fraction of the $30 trillion the government loaned them to keep their collapse from taking down our economy.
-Government money to cover contraception

What do we need to focus on? All of these involve controlling money. Is that the problem?

The money isn’t the problem. It’s how the government is engineering the country as if money is our only motivator.

Good leaders trust the human spirit, not carrots and sticks

Good leaders don’t use regulations and incentives. But our leaders are doing so today. They’re trying to regulate Wall St bankers to prevent their recklessness from hurting us again in the future. But regulations restrict us and push us to find a way around them. That is why three times since 1990, the banks have almost collapsed and why the government bailed them out each time. If you knew you were going to get your money back, would you be more or less careless when spending it?

And incentives? Incentives bribe us. Research shows that when you start giving rewards, people are pretty predictable. They stop doing for the sake of doing, and shift to doing for the reward. When you start going to work so that you can get money to buy stuff, the stuff becomes the reward and the job becomes less of a choice.

We’re not animals. But if you use carrots and sticks on us, we will tune our motivations to that type of environment

How can these two things be the foundation of leadership, of government, of a community?

They can’t.

Are there any leaders today that inspire you? Most leaders of today aren’t going to be the people in government. Those who seek power in a system that has been compromised have compromised themselves. Granted, they may change some things. They may nibble at the fringes. But that cancer still grows inside.

Despite what media and culture tells us, leaders aren’t special. They aren’t chosen by divine providence or fate. They don’t have abilities different than you and me. Do you empower others? Ask people what they think? Do you encourage people? Then you’re probably a leader, or you can become one now that you see what it takes.

Leaders make things happen, yes. But:

“A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves”

This Taoist quote tells us it’s about us doing something. It’s always been about us. And I think we can do this. It’s going to require us to remove the gag of money that has both silenced and motivated us. It’s going to require looking past the “I want to get mine if they’re getting theirs”. It’s going to require stopping the consumer train, and looking at what we’re feeding the engine. It’s going to require putting our heads together and not letting party or social class or emotions divide us and distract us from doing the right thing.

Let’s kill the noise and start listening to reality

Elections are where we can flex our muscle. But we’ve got to do our homework before then. Listen to what’s being reported. Do you think it’s important? We’ve got to talk to people and not be afraid to ask them why they believe what they do. Your neighbor isn’t stupid or lazy, and neither are you. Politics isn’t personal. It’s what a community depends on for its survival! And if we think one party or one person can fix this country, we’ve missed the point. This country is here because people had the courage of their convictions to join together and risk everything for what they believed in.

I think we can step up and be leaders again.