Ever since we are quite young, we face opposite–and often contradictory–ends of a spectrum as we seek to live and guide our lives. Put simply, do we want to become the world’s greatest boy/girl/scout in the world or do we prefer to use all of our gifts to become the world’s richest man\woman.
It may seem, at first blush, that it is quite possible to achieve both goals simultaneously. That we can be icons of honesty and altruism as well as masters of the machinery of business and other routes to financial success.
Nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is, to be an extraordinary wealth-builder or an extreme success in any field—one has to trade some of the boy scout for some of the traits of dominance, deal-making and self-centeredness that leads to a Tiger Woods, a Mark Zuckerberg, a Barack Obama or a Mitt Romney.
Let’s put Zuckerberg under the microscope for a moment. When Facebook’s founder was rocked with a more or less legitimate claim that he should share the wealth with twins who had a reasonable claim on the company’s ownwership, Zuckerberg surveyed the goal posts and chose to go for the world’s richest man — as opposed to its eagle scout extraordinaire. In spite of the fact that he claims money means little to him, the young CEO marshaled all of the cunning, chess sense and high-powered lawyering available to him, to fight for the wealth at the expense of the boy scout. I don’t come down on either side here, except to demonstrate the goal posts’ duality we all face. And to add that those who chose the fairness actions and principles to a T, usually wind up as far less successful than their more “ruthless” counterparts.
Every time we make a significant decision and base an action on it, we take a chip from one side of the life column or the other. And this impacts greatly, for good or bad, the kind of person we are.
I used to believe that the boy scout\captain of art, science or industry could be embedded in the same person but now I know that to be an illusion, a pipe dream. For years, Warren Buffett appeared to be the giant of capitalism who made every decision with the fair innocence of a Goldilocks. That’s until you see how he plays the populist role on taxes with one hand and with the other, battles the government over more than a billion dollars his empire is said to owe. And how he supports political figures whose programs wind up enriching his coffers.
Modest home in Omaha, yes. Smart ruse? To be sure. Boy scout? Hardly.
Another fact, surprising to most who wave the boy scout banner, is that those who do indeed live closest to this honorable code, are rarely deemed to be successful. They never make the headlines. Are never widely-viewed as role models. No one writes books about them.
And yet they are to be admired. They are:
*The teachers who toil away in quiet, more focused on student achievement
than union benefits.
*The accountants who blow the whistle on financial wrongdoing whatever the
consequences to their careers.
*The scientists who conduct experiments through the lonely nights and if
they develop something exceptional, reject the financial rewards that go
with them and just keep seeking greater truths.
Are you willing to go through life as a poor and unknown purist or does the other goal post secretly draw your attention?Email This Post