What's your ultimate goal in life? Do you want to become president of the United States and be the most powerful person on the planet? Or is your aim in life to join the billionaires club and become part of the wealthiest elite in the world?
Sure, these are aspirations that many people have. Or maybe they'll settle instead for becoming a governor and not president; or CEO of a Fortune 500 company and not a Top Ten company; or maybe becoming a simple multi-millionaire instead of a billionaire.
Either way these goals are all fixated on measuring success through the accumulation of power and money. My take is that you can acquire all of the power and financial fortune that this world has to offer but it doesn't necessarily give you the biggest prize of all--and that's happiness. In fact, all of the negative energy directed towards gaining power or money or both can make you downright unhappy.
Look at the Machiavellian politician Frank Underwood so ably played in the House of Cards drama by Kevin Spacey. Consider the ego of this vengeful man and the extremes to which he is willing to go to achieve the highest office in the land. Once he gets there is he truly satisfied; is he really happy?
There are business executives who fall into the same mould. In their aggressive climb up the corporate ladder, in the satisfaction of their own ego, they don't care who they demean and denigrate on their way to the top. They conduct business in an immoral, even demonic way. It doesn't bother them that they routinely steal and jeopardize the livelihood of others. Result: I don't think they can ever be truly happy.
Money does matter. It's a form of currency that quantifies what you can buy in life. But, as the Beatles famously sang back in 1964 money can't buy you love and money can't buy happiness, either. Just this past week while preoccupied with my own tribulations and thinking about the millions of dollars in capital I was in the midst of raising for my business I was brought down to earth while shopping in a Safeway grocery store.
I couldn't help but overhear the conversation that a family was having about what groceries they could afford to purchase when they had a cracked window that they really needed to replace. They couldn't do both. That's where money matters.
It struck a real chord with me because that could have been my family when I was a child. That's the way I was raised--struggling to make ends meet. My folks had to make tough decisions like that all the time. There were seven of us in a one-bedroom place in a bad part of town. And money was tight.
But what really struck me was--in spite of their financial problems--the love and affection that this family obviously had for each other. It was the same love and affection that I experienced as a kid growing up, which is worth more than all the money in the world. It's the kind of bond that's worth more than anything.
Belief and Choice
Don't get me wrong. There's absolutely nothing wrong, of course, with making money honorably; with making lots of money based on honesty and integrity--and through working your ass off. My point is that it's not all about the money. There are more important things in life.
We all have choices to make from the first day we become able to think for ourselves. Belief is inside all human beings. We can believe in ourselves and our abilities; we can believe in the power of love; we can believe in happiness as being the ultimate achievement (without having power and money). It's up to us to decide whether or not we bring out that belief and make it happen. It's your choice.
--Gurbaksh Chahal is CEO of RadiumOne, an enterprise advertising platform based in San Francisco.