Might We Become Richer Much Faster Than Anyone Thinks?


On my Everyday Leadership radio show on Saturday I asked callers to say what they thought would help us emerge from the recession and emerge stronger and more prosperous? As you would guess, I stressed the personal dimension of the question: What do you think you need to learn and do differently?

One caller – was it Dave from Dewitt? – said that he and his wife had been married for ten years, and feeling the economic pinch, they began to budget as a family. What they found out as they looked at their spending data was that their entertainment expenses were a big slice of the pie. He said that they have now become more disciplined about what they really need. One of the byproducts, he said, was that they have become imaginative about entertainment, spent more time at home, and really enjoyed this family time. A second fellow echoed the same message: Get back to basics he said; distinguish between wants and needs. Part of our way out of this mess is precisely that: Much more focus on what truly brings what the economists call “utility,” and we might call happiness or satisfaction.

This is pretty cool from a spiritual perspective, as well. In the economic market, it’s simple efficiency. When funds get tight, entities –whether families or businesses – tighten their belts and spend on the necessities that are most valuable. Yet this veers into the spiritual realm, as we distinguish between wants and needs. As one of my callers said, “You start to realize that having a third bathroom is not really that important.” The material world isn’t the whole enchilada.

Although things may look terrible from a material perspective, one can look deeper, and there you find some surprising silver linings. I think of a friend of Jack’s. This boy’s grandparents were comfortably semi-retired in Florida; or so they thought. But a job layoff and the hit on their retirement accounts led to foreclosure on their home. They moved back to Michigan and moved in temporarily with their daughter and their grandchildren. No one likes to be forced into such a circumstance, into this “efficient” way of dealing with a capital shortfall. But for millennia and in many countries to this day, grandparents’ living with their grandchildren is the norm if not the ideal. It’s possible if not likely, that the grandparents and kids actually have a RICHER life in the full sense of that word.

In these tough times, both at work and at home, it behooves you to ask: What is real wealth? How rich is our life? And: What do we really value? – As you . . .

Lead with your best self.