In many ways life is a race and we are all participating in it to reach completion. Fortunately, unlike in a real race there isn’t only one winner here, each one of us will end up at different positions and all of us can choose to be happy or unhappy about it, depending on our expectations and our actual achievements.
If you have studied Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, you will understand that the driving force for most middle class or upper middle class people should really be self actualisation, at least after the other levels of needs to lead a reasonably good life are met. This will also explain why many of us are dissatisfied about our lives, even though we may be doing well in the financial context. Wealth definitely has a financial dimension but it is really a whole lot more than that.
Think of it in terms of the scenario below in order to understand this better :-
- You have a 5 year old son and your worry is to get him to a good school which hopefully does not cost a bomb.
- Based on your reading of all the Facebook groups and books written by people you believe in, you invest in MF through SIP for his college education.
- When the time comes for college, if he does not get through his own ability into a good one, you stretch yourself by paying capitation fee in some private college.
- Beyond graduation if he does not get a decent job you again look at PG etc.
You will see that in all of this, money plays a very minimal role, though it is important. Even if you did not invest for his college education through MF etc, he could still continue his education through loans etc, assuming he has the capability to get into a good college. The real investment here is therefore, how you have guided him since childhood to attain the standards required for getting into a premium college. If you have that ability then you can consider yourself wealthy not otherwise.
The bottom line therefore is that you are seeking some outcome or you are being sought out by others as they feel you can add great value to them – this makes you wealthy. Very often such skills or knowledge can be used to earn money but even if you give it away without any monetary benefit to yourself, it still makes you wealthy. For example, when I write my blog and as a result, several people interact with me for advice, it definitely gives me a feeling of being wealthy.
When I was thinking about the times when I have genuinely felt I was wealthy, I could think of the following situations:-
- My ability to do things which are important to me such as travel, attending sports or other cultural events, sampling different types of cuisine etc.
- The luxury of time I have had earlier and today to read up on any subject I like.
- The success of my children in their school, college and a variety of other areas which give me the feeling that I have brought them up well.
- Mentoring of hundreds of my erstwhile colleagues, many of who are working in leadership positions now, in the corporate world.
- The mentoring which I do with many IIM aspirants which has played some part in their getting admitted to these institutes.
- The professional work in Consulting I do with SME companies in order to help them scale up from where they are today.
- The fact that many people look up to me in different ways is a source of great pride and joy to me, which in turn makes me feel wealthy.
In several ways, being wealthy is really the ability to give in order to make a difference to the lives of other people in your personal or professional sphere. Money is definitely one medium of distribution but there are many others. Importantly, it is an ongoing process you do not need to wait for it till you have finished your work life or have assets of a few crores etc. Start in whichever way you can and to whatever extent possible, you will feel the power of being wealthy quite soon.
If you were to look at yourself and ask if you were wealthy, what will your answer be? If you want to share it with me, I will be happy to hear it.