(original post-date: February 9, 2011)
I recently had lunch with a delightful friend who we’ll call Anne, and – as usual – our conversation traveled all over the map. We meet for lunch about once every six weeks or so, and invariably, just around the time we are settling the check, one of us will look at her watch and say, “My God, would you look at the time?”
But before we got to that pre-parting rhetorical question, Anne had shared with me the details of her husband’s recent experience as a forward-thinking landscape architect who, in my opinion, is probably a genius.
I’ll get to that in a minute (his experience, I mean).
First, though – since this post is essentially about money – I should share the context of my perspective.
I feel no draw to money.
I am not driven by it. I don’t crave it. I don’t make decisions based on it. And I just think it’s grossly overrated.
Which brings me to my own personal definition: Money is something other people need for me to have.
I’m not recommending this definition on anyone, and frankly, there are months when my relationship with money puts me in the “fear place” for a few too many days, but… read it and weep, that’s just me.
Now, to Anne’s husband’s story…
I’m going to give the cliff notes here, because whenever terms like “venture capitalists” or “stock options” are introduced into a story, I pretty much start hearing Charlie Brown’s teacher talking. (As in, “WAH. WAH. WAH?”) But I got the gist of the story, and the gist is this:
Anne’s husband created a company, and within that company, he combined his skills as a landscape architect with his appreciation for our planet’s precarious balance. His passions led to patents, and as his creations generated income, he grew a staff. A staff that he respected and hoped would feel nurtured.
Anne’s husband wisely knew that he did not want to be CEO of said company, so a CEO was hired.
As venture capitalists came forth, the CEO recommended that insiders reduce their stock values. And Anne’s husband’s stock values always got reduced the most.
The longer the CEO was there, the more he had his way, and the less the company resembled the vision of Anne’s husband. Ultimately, Anne’s husband realized that the change was irreversible, and – to keep from becoming physically knotted into perpetuity – he moved on (still holding stocks).
Recently, the company that Anne’s husband created was sold, and Anne’s husband received his cut, as per his reduced stock values. His cut was impressive, but it was about one-tenth of what he should have received. To this day, he can drive through neighborhoods, pointing out the environmentally positive impact of his inventions. But his cut… not so big.
And that’s the story (or at least, that’s the story I came away with).
I also came away from this story with a question: should GREED be classified as a mental illness?
In anticipation of exploring this theory, I did some googling, and here’s what The Free Dictionary provides for the definition of mental illness: Any of various conditions characterized by impairment of an individual's normal cognitive, emotional, or behavioral functioning, and caused by social, psychological, biochemical, genetic, or other factors, such as infection or head trauma.
For me, the key word there is “normal,” so let’s run with that for a moment…
I love it, The Free Dictionary includes, as the first definition of “normal” (as a noun): Something normal …HAH! (Thanks for the clarification there!)
Okay, so let’s back up to the definitions of “normal” as an adjective, since that’s the appropriate context. Definition #1: Conforming with, adhering to, or constituting a norm, standard, pattern, level, or type; typical
See? There’s that “norm” again.
This brings me to the conclusion that no one actually knows what is “normal” (and, frankly, that works for me), but I still think that greed is a mental illness.
Greed is anti-social, obsessive, and self-serving.
Greed doesn’t care who gets hurt.
Greed is narcissistic.
Greed is NOT good.
Hmm… with all the pharmaceuticals out there, available to offset this or that mental malady, do you think they’ll develop one to cure (or at least reduce the manifestations of) greed?
I doubt it.
Because the pharmaceutical companies are right there among the greedy.
I’m so glad I don’t care about money, and I truly pity the folks who put it at the top of their lists.
They’re missing the magic and grace of life.
They’re missing my normal.