Psychology of Money: 15

Robert Kiyosaki, the author of the book we’ve been examining (Rich Dad, Poor Dad) has his fair share of detractors. Most of them bristle over the author’s methods of sharing his ideas through overpriced workshops and CDs. Some of them also argue that some of his ideas are unsound. But we would expect this since his is a provocative opinion supported by the facts that will, of course, support it. It’s not a scientific equation. What his book does do, even his detractors agree, is offer a different and compelling (and some say, useful) general mindset about how to achieve wealth.

One of things I like best about his book is that he advises his reader not to bother attempting to amass wealth unless you have some higher reason to do so. Robert sets out his own “deep-seated, emotional reasons” that drive why he wants to be wealthy and argues that if yours “are not strong enough then the reality of the road ahead may be greater than your reasons.”

Respected economist John Kay makes a similar argument. In his book Obliquity he explains how the happiest people haven’t been in pursuit of happiness, how the most profitable companies haven’t been in pursuit of profit and how the wealthiest people haven’t been in pursuit of wealth. Yes these outcomes were desired (and for companies, necessary) in every case, there is a higher goal; happiness, profit and wealth have been oblique outcomes. Indirect outcomes. Basically side effects. Kay would argue it’s not so much that your motivation for wealth needs to be strong enough, but that it needs to be totally obedient and secondary to a higher pursuit.

Kay takes us through the examples of Rockefeller, Carnegie and even Donald Trump (who claims his passion is the art of the deal, not the wealth – he long stopped needing any more.) and points out “I cannot honestly recommend that you read Bill Gates’s account of his career, but if you do you will be left with a clear sense that the man’s primary interest is in computers rather than cash, in gilt-edged business rather than marble bathrooms.”

In any case since most of us aren’t going to become the wealthiest living in our already very wealthy societies, what then should we aim for in our relationship with money? Being debt-free and able to shop when we like just isn’t a meaningful goal.

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