#40 My New Definition of Success

I'm reading David and Goliath by Malcolm GladwellA book about perspective. 

Malcolm Gladwell inspires me because he has a distinct ability to dig three-feet deeper than the rest of us. It makes me want to dig deeper. This is why I love reading all his books, including Outliers (the first of his that caught my attention), The Tipping Point, Blink, and now I'm on my fourth of his in the last half year. 

He reminded me of how my perspective of success has changed over the last year.

But first a story.

He starts this book with the story of David and Goliath. The story everyone knows. It's a story of a boy named David who takes down a seemingly impossible opponent in the giant Goliath. 

Malcolm reveals that we are missing the whole story. We are not looking at the context of the story correctly. We look only at the surface of this great underdog story and use it as an example of how the little guy can defeat the big guy. 

What are we missing? You should read the book to find out. Go down to your local bookstore and pick it up or check it out here on Amazon for $10: http://amzn.to/2iNqHeE. The perspective you get from immersing yourself in his ideas is really worth it.

On Page 44 of David and Goliath. He tells the story of a powerful person in Hollywood. Someone who seemingly has all the advantages in the world, but what you think is his advantage is actually his disadvantage.

His father was the product of the Depression, and talked plainly about money. The man from Hollywood said that if he wanted something - a new pair of running shoes, say, or a bicycle - his father would tell him he had to pay half. If he left the lights on, his father would show him the electric bill. "He'd say, 'Look, this is what we pay for electricity. You're just being lazy, not turning the lights off. We're paying for you being lazy. But if you need lights for working - twenty-four hours a day - no problem.'" 

The man from Hollywood learned the value of money early. 

1. He knew that he had to work hard to get money so that he could buy the things he wanted.

2. He knew that laziness was expensive.

3. He knew that you have to spend some money (e.g. lights, on your personal development) so that you can make money.

The man from Hollywood became very wealthy.

To the point where he now has a house in Beverley Hills the size of an airplane hangar, his own jet, a Ferrari in the garage, and a gate in front of his seemingly never-ending driveway that looks like it was shipped over from some medieval castle in Europe.

He understood money, he is very good at making money and spending money. But this is not the story we are pursuing today.

His Children Will Have A Hard Time Learning The Same Values About Money

The man from Hollywood knew this. His money that everyone on the outside sees as an advantage is his greatest disadvantage. 

He knew his success would be a barrier to his kids learning the same lessons that made him successful.

He was successful because he learned the long and hard way about the value of money and the meaning of work and the joy and fulfillment that comes from making your own way in the world.

You see, there is a certain point where how much you make starts having diminishing returns on your happiness and your ability to raise your kids well. The sweet spot is around $75,000 a year.

Above $75,000 a year in household income, more money doesn't significantly impact your ability to raise happy and well-balanced kids, that understand the value of money, work, and fulfillment of making your own way.

Malcolm argues that beyond $75,000 there is a peaking point where things take a turn for the worse. This is the man from Hollywood's situation.

Having too much money actually made it harder to raise his children with the same values that made him successful.

It's harder to tell your kids, "no, we can't", when you have a huge house, fancy cars, and a lifestyle that screams like Obama "yes, we can!".

It requires you to say "no, we won't". This is harder because it requires a conversation. It requires your patience to overpower your child's persistent cries. It requires you not to "buy your child's silence" because you know you can afford it.

If you save money and become wealthy, will your wealth become a hinderance to the success of your children?

Don't Let Wealth Be A Disadvantage

The other day, my wife asked me about success. Who I think is most successful in my life. 

I paused. I was conflicted in how I would answer.

Traditionally and historically, I believed success was defined by how much money a person has. This belief likely stemmed from my idolization of billionaires like Bill Gates, my love for economy building games like Monopoly and an online game called Utopia, where having more meant you were the best. 

More was always better. And more meant more money and more things.

That's when I hit unpause. 

I have a new mindset and perspective on life and success. Chasing money and chasing happiness are two different things.

I define success now by how fulfilled a person is with their life. Therefore, your true measure of success is only measurable by yourself.

Only you will really know how fulfilled you are with your work and your life.

Money is good, but not an accurate reflection of success. 

Money is a tool that helps us buy the necessities and some luxuries in life.

1. We Save Money so that we can be comfortable.

2. We Save Money so that we can focus our energy away from "survival" and towards things that will make us fulfilled and successful.

Your wealth should not have any impact on your success or your children's success. The values you instil in your children should not be impacted by how much money you have. 

They will still need to learn to save money and manage money, and that will require you develop the mental capacity to say "no we won't". 

What makes you feel fulfilment in your heart?

For me, it's helping people that want to help themselves.

I am a huge advocate of people that have dreams. I'm an optimist after all.

If I can do something, even if it's as small as a "like" on social media or feedback or a coffee meeting, or even just encouragement, I'll do what I can. I want to help people get one step closer to their dreams. That is the most fulfilling thing for me. 

I don't have the power to make peoples dreams come true......yet. But I'll always try to do whatever is in my power to help the most I can help. If I have some kind of skill or knowledge that can help do more, I will lend that support.


Save Money Retire Early is written by Jon Lo, a barely 30 something change optimist, and personal finance guy. I believe anyone can be rich or poor, it's what you save that makes the difference.

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