Means To Ends

Money, Money, Money
It’s so funny
In the rich man’s world

– ABBA

As I drove to early morning surgery on Saturday, I had an interesting insight – about money. And drew an interesting parallel – with cars!

When you fill your tank with gas, do you do it because it makes you feel good? Or give you a sense of security?

Or is it because now you know you can drive your car to where you want to go?

Having money is like that. Money is energy. ‘Fuel’, if you like. It lets you do things, go places, experience stuff.

But money is just the means to an end.

In and of itself, having money means nothing. When I got back home, I asked my wife a question.

“What if I gave you a BILLION dollars – under one condition… that you CANNOT spend it at all, but must continue to live just the same way as you always have. Would simply having a billion dollars make you happier?”

Not surprisingly, she answered “No”.

So, when money is the means to an end, it becomes obvious that it is the END that matters most to those who have a lot of money.

Donald Trump says he prefers going to the office to taking a vacation – because what he does at work is more exciting, enjoyable and satisfying than anything else he’d rather be doing!

I happily devote hours to performing heart surgery and taking care of my little patients after their operations – even though I don’t get paid for doing it. And the time and effort invested into writing and selling books is only fulfilling because of what the money it brings in lets me do – fund these operations!

That’s why you hardly ever see folks with a lot of money ‘retire’ and just ‘relax on a beach’.

That’s a fantasy many have before they get an infusion of the energy called money. Once they get fueled up, they’re raring to go.

It’s why John Doerr continues to invest in new ventures, why Sabir Bhatia took his Hotmail millions and built new companies, why Biz Stone and Evan Williams didn’t rest content with Blogger.com and went on to create Twitter.

It’s why Seth Godin keeps churning out more best-selling books, why Guy Kawasaki continues to invest in new companies and encourage entrepreneurs, why Marc Andreesen built Ning.com after winning big with Netscape.

They all could have ‘retired’ and ‘relaxed’ after earning their fortunes.

But the money was only the means to an end.

Or many ends.

All of them exciting and fulfilling in far deeper ways than merely big bank balances can ever be.

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1 Comment
  • Jul 26,2009 at 3:04 pm

    For me, money is just another way of improving my options.

    There is a general method to getting money and the options it provides are typically very tangible and expendable.

    Relationships, which truly make it worth getting out of bed in the morning, have little to do with money and are rarely predictable.

    I try to make smart decisions about money and thoughtful choices in my relationships. Both have “tanks” that must be kept full in order to let me go wherever I like. Sometimes it’s a trip to Venice. Other times it’s a few hours with a trusted friend.

    It’s good to have both. =)

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