I am mid-way through Malcolm Gladwell’s ‘Outliers’. This is another in his oeuvre of shining an inquisitive light onto ideas that we thought were settled…but that actually rely on folklore to survive. He’s a truth-teller I guess, applying clear-headed logic to neglected parts of our social civilization. Outliers attempts to figure out how mega-success in business (like that enjoyed by Bill Gates and Larry Ellison) can be applied to our own lives. It’s fascinating. We all like the stories of others’ fame and fortune so we can dream.
At some point the book will turn to applying one-in-a-million rocketship rides to our own less glittering lives. If you weren’t born in the right year, if you didn’t take up computer coding, if you didn’t struggle with out-of-fashion business ideas, then your life will not be as shiny. Don’t despair: there is something from Jeff Bezos’ life we can harness.
Which does not jive with my view. Yes, people might wonder what it’s like to be Donald Trump. Yes, they might even find themselves envious of the private jets and beautiful suits. But most of us understand that life’s just not like that. We think that mega-people leave sadness, disappointment and tears behind…but that is nuts. Of course they don’t. Money allows you to say “no” more often, but doesn’t exclude you from the complex up and downs of our social and physical universe.
So let’s not spend any time thinking we need to emulate the big boys. We all have our own pathway to bliss. First we need to define that, of course. Then we need to work, study and create the right attitude to stay on that path. Lots of small successes on that roadway will do more than any completely unlikely lottery-win one-off. The process is the thing.
Money is the mortar holding our house together. That’s where I’ve found myself, understanding clearly that the less time you need to spend making the money to keep your life moving forward, the sweeter the path. The other way works too; reduce your need for money as much as possible and you can do more with less. (This does have a limited possibility of improvement though. There is a floor defining the least amount of money your budget requires. You have to make some dosh to buy socks.)