money_receiptA mentor once made a comment that really sums up and captures a few prevailing thoughts that have been circling in my head for the last several months.  This is what he said…

“Money is simply the receipt that society gives you for the value you bring to the marketplace.”

The statement is all about getting your view of money in line with reality.  I have been victim and still am to the thoughts like “I want to make $600K per year” and “I want to have $1M in the bank.” There is nothing wrong with these goals but the true question is not what, but why.  Why should I receive those kinds of financial means?   What am I going to contribute to society?  How many people am I going to help that would justify that sort of compensation?  What problem am I going to solve?

In my mind these are the questions that must come first.  The ones that focus on the WHY in life.  To date, Bill Gates is the wealthiest man in the world because he helps a whole lot of people run their computer every day.  He filled a big void and helped solve many major problems through Microsoft’s products and services, not just because he owns the company.

So the question becomes what major problem can I solve that would be of big value to society?  When I solve it, society will give me a receipt for that value in the form of money.  Let’s follow this train of thought.  If you have a job your salary is what society says your worth in the marketplace.  In the same sense if you own a business and you earn a certain revenue, that too is what society and (more importantly your customers) have said you are worth in the marketplace.  May be a tough pill to swallow at first because of the incongruences between our mental ideas of what we think we are worth and what we actually make, however if we start to look at it with supreme objectivity the thought actually liberates us.

If we are unhappy with what we make now, we have the power to choose to raise our value to the marketplace.  There is also the idea of relative income.  If we make $50K per year and get a $10K raise but we go from working 40 hours a week to 60, are we wealthier?  It depends on how we look at it.  Let’s assume 50 weeks, that is 2k hours vs. 3k hours or $25 per hour vs. $20 per hour.  So although your gross income went up by 20%, your time to money ratio decreased by 20%.  Did your value to marketplace really go up?  Does making more money always require spending more time working?

Let’s get back to solving problems and raising your value to market for a minute.  Most people would agree that leadership is one of the highest paid positions in business.  In fact it is difficult to even argue that point.  Let’s examine this for a minute, why?  Well I would argue that leaders are normally solving big organizational, society or culture issues, and in the very least the help solve problems for their customers, employees and followers.  So one may correlate “the more I develop my leadership the more value I will bring to the marketplace.”  I would agree.

I believe when we get our WHY figured out, develop leadership abilities and get our relationship right with the money/time balance, we are on our way to true freedom.  Not just financial, but also spiritual, moral and of course let us not forget about political.