The character J.R. Ewing of “Dallas” TV show fame is said to based on H.L. Hunt, one of the early oil tycoons in Texas. Hunt died in 1974 and had been one of the wealthiest persons in America.
We may not agree that profit at any price, manipulation and deceit are good things, but for some of the wealthy they have worked. Thus the creation of the J.R. Ewing character. To see only the negative side of wealth creation can often cause us to miss important aspects that we could apply in our own lives.
For example, H.L. Hunt has been attributed three rules that lead to success:
- Decide what you want
- Determine the price
- Be willing to pay it
If I examined all of the successful people I know, there is little doubt that they intuitively follow this guideline. For others, most can establish 1 and part of 2, but never quite commit to number 3.
Price is usually not money although some may be involved. Price is usually time. Time away from friends and family. Time spent doing things most people don’t want to do. Time spent learning new skills, meeting new people, and understanding the surrounding world.
I saw a picture recently with the caption, “You have a 40 hour work week. I remember my first part time job” Sounds like many I know.
Price includes relationships. It is hard to be a good partner or parent when you are fully obsessed with and committed to a business.
Price can include health. Stress is harmful. Poor diet and little exercise are problems.
The rules look simple and John Snobelin has said that people fail because they cannot follow simple rules. The rules may look simple and they are easy to express, but they are nuanced and complicated.
Money is not a functional goal. Beyond a point it has no meaning. It becomes a way to keep score. But up to the point where more becomes meaningless, it is important. So what to do?
Notice that life is balance. Enough time, enough money, enough health, enough relationship, enough achievement. Each of us must make our own allocation and it will likely change over time.
Be sure your life plan includes elements of each important part. Money is not the most important thing for many. Be sure to seek what you care most about and balance the rest.
“Being rich is having money; being wealthy is having time” Margaret Bonnano
Don Shaughnessy is a retired partner in an international public accounting firm and is now with The Protectors Group, a large personal insurance, employee benefits and investment agency in Peterborough Ontario.