A few months ago, I found myself sitting with a group of activists, all of us seeking to effect positive changes in our world. By way of introducing ourselves, we talked a about our interests and aspirations. When it came to me, I said that I love wealth. At which point, an uncomfortable silence settled over the group. The others shifted in their chairs. Wealth was not OK. I was in the wrong group.
What does "wealth" mean for you? Are you clear about your priorities, and what is important for you? Are you having to make adjustments to your spending in these times of uncertainty?
The three pillars of corporate governance are: accountability, transparency and probity or integrity. These values are considered vital for building and maintaining healthy relationships with employees, customers and stakeholders. Many times, I am sure you could point an accusing finger at organizations, institutions or corporations who are weak in any of these areas.
However, those qualities are equally of value to you as an individual. Not for the sake of appearing pious or self-righteous, but as a solid foundation in all relationships.
If you were to take money out of the wealth equation and look at your wealth in a broader way, you could see how rich you are, regardless of money in the bank, your income and how you spend it. Your human wealth is considerable, and increases with age.
Consider your wealth now in the light of:
1. What you have achieved in your life so far?
You may not have won great prizes or seen yourself in the hall of fame. But perhaps you are successfully raising a family. Just getting through the day sometimes is considerable. Which of your achievements have given you most pleasure and satisfaction?
2. What are your personal assets?
What are the qualities that make you special and unique? For example, your sense of humor, compassion, empathy, generosity, curiosity, courage.
3. Who are your people assets?
The family and friends you love, and who love you; colleagues at work who appreciate your being part of their team; your boss who values the contribution that you make; the neighbor who is there for you when you need assistance; the shop assistant who always has a kind word for you.
4. What are the talents and skills you have learned or developed so far?
Think about the basics of being able to read, write, use a computer, ride a bicycle, drive a car, cook, communicate, play sports. What about the skills you have learned in your work, or in your hobbies and leisure time interests? What unique talent do you love to use?
5. What have you gained through your life experience to date?
The sky is the limit here because all of your experiences will have given you something: a lesson to learn perhaps, new insights and awareness about yourself and your world, new understanding about your purpose in life.
6. What are your dreams and aspirations?
Knowing what you want and having the courage to go for it will draw forth from you greater strengths, qualities and more of your human wealth than had you stayed home and let your hopes fade into obscurity,
If accountability, transparency and probity or integrity are the pillars of corporate governance, the foundation is human value. Whether you are looking at an organization, or yourself as an individual, those qualities apply in building a rewarding and happy life. Corporate governance is a case of enlightened self-interest because it serves all parties.
Look at this way. Are you accountable for your wealth? Have you taken stock recently of your achievements, skills, talents, personal assets and life experiences? Are you accountable to your commitments, aspirations and dreams?
Are you transparent or clear to yourself about your priorities and values, and have you communicated them to those who are important for you?
Are you being true to yourself with integrity, at one with who you are, happy and at peace with yourself in the world? Do you truly value the special and unique human spirit that you are?
For all of your material wealth, which is considerable when seen in the light of how many of our fellow humans are living, you may miss something of the simple wealth of human community.
Money is innocent. The emotions around it are complex. How we manage ourselves is where wealth comes in, not just in financial terms, but in how we relate to our core human value. That is where we each of us count.
For a lighter look at money, Monty Python offers this view:
For more information about corporate governance read: Thin on Top: Why Corporate Governance Matters and How to Measure and Improve Board Performance by Bob Garratt.
Which of your talents do you most appreciate? How do you best nurture and enrich yourself? How does wealth feature in your life? I would love to hear from you.
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