Everything Is Relative Superstar – Being Happy With What You Have
Last week was pretty busy. I traveled to three cities and saw 10 different clients with one of my senior colleagues, Jim. Jim, aka Superstar, is 45 years old, has his PhD in Economics, and could probably retire now if he wants to.
Jim is a great speaker who engages his clients with insightful anecdotes. At 5 foot 5 inches tall, Jim stands more confidently than his stature would suggest. With a staff of 30 people serving his every wishes, Jim never has to worry about not getting his way. He’s a meticulous man with particular demands, which leads us to our little adventure.
It was the second to last meeting of the trip, and we were both quite tired. However, this meeting was the most important. We were seeing the biggest person at the biggest client and we had to make a good first impression.
The Chairman is an elderly gentleman with a gracious smile and a warm handshake. We exchange salutations and sit in his well-worn office noticing the iconic pictures of him with famous industry leaders. I could have sworn there was even a picture of him shaking hands with Nixon.
Efficiently, Mr. Chairman asks us to state our case. Jim starts off and says, “In my 15 years covering country X, I have never been so bearish than I am right now.” Not a bad starting line, but as the observer, I noticed Mr. Chairman look away a little with a smile. Here Jim is, telling our client how negative he is on a particular country based on Jim’s career history, when the client’s own career history is longer than Jim’s lifetime!
The meeting went well in the end, and Jim and I had a post-meeting chuckle. I mentioned to Jim about his “15 year career” quip and he realized that Mr. Chairman must have thought he was just a kid, given our client’s 50 year career. Jim promised to calibrate his intro differently next time.
At this point we’re starving and Jim asks me what’s for lunch. I mentioned we ordered sandwiches for our next meeting so not to worry. Jim responds to me, “Sandwiches again? I’ve been on the road for the past two weeks, and I just can’t eat another rubber chicken sandwich!”
With the lightening thinking I possess, I figure why not use the 50 minutes we have in between meetings to try out something good. For some reason, California Japanese fast food chain “Yoshinoya” called to me, and we walked across the street. After some Mr. Pibbs sodas, warm salads on plastic plates, and salt bowls with beef, we went to the next meeting.
In we went, and there we saw a spread of the most gourmet sandwiches we had ever seen. We’re talking the best looking BLTs, teriyaki steak subs, and multi-layer Italians. Jim then turns around to me and states, “If I knew you were going to take me to Yoshiwhatever, I would have gladly just passed and eaten here!” We laughed, and I just told him to go stuff his face with more food and stop complaining.
EVERYTHING IS RELATIVE, STOP WANTING MORE
Jim is a powerful and wealthy man at my firm, but compared to our client, Jim happily agrees he’s just the water boy. Having sandwiches for lunch for the 5th time in a row sounds unappealing, but compared to the salt bowls at Yoshinoya’s, those sandwiches sure looked tasty.
We live in the richest country in the world and yet how come there is so much financial dissatisfaction among collective individuals? The reason is the never ending desire to want more. There will always be someone richer than you. Why are you always relating yourself to the youngest VP in your company? Instead, why not just relate downwards, or sideways? Better yet, stop relating.
The key is to just cut things off and be happy with what you have. The pleasure from material things is so impermanent, stop wasting your money on junk. If you cut these desires out, you’ll never worry about spending more than you make. In time, your wealth will surpass your wildest expectations!
Readers, do you think it’s possible to stop making comparisons with people who have more? Is it an insurmountable task to be happy with what we have?
Financial Samurai – “Slicing Through Money’s Mysteries”
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