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What do you aspire to in business

Business aspirations and the lottery

Diane Hall


businessman getting the contract

This was a conversation in the office last week…‘What would you do if you won the lottery?’ From our responses, it seems that most of us would chase our dreams and/or travel the world. Most importantly, those present all said they’d enjoy a slower place of life.

I don’t think we’re all strange in this regard. If money was no object, would you really get up at the crack of dawn, fight the rush hour traffic, and stay rooted to your desk for eight hours or more each day in the same job?

Some people would, without a doubt, but there would be just as many who’d take a complete step back from the daily grind. For every Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg, who are often referred to as workaholics, there are the Tom Andersons.

Tom Anderson from Myspace classic Photo

Tom from MySpace

Tom Anderson from Myspace classic Photo

Tom was the co-founder of one of the first major social media networking sites: Myspace. After selling the company in 2005, he netted a few hundred million pounds. In 2009 he announced that he was retiring completely, despite being just 39 years old—his passion for travelling cited as the reason. On his Instagram feed he said, ‘For the longest time I’ve been satisfied, not really wanting more from life—just at peace with how I am and how the world is.’

Tom’s aspirations changed from wanting to achieve in the world of business to more of a spiritual education. If you think about it, if you’ve already made enough money that you have the freedom to experience practically anything, what would simply making more money do? Where are the life lessons and what personal growth is in that?

Ambitious people often strive to become a millionaire. However, when they reach this wonderful level, instead of resting and enjoying their successes, they aspire to become a billionaire. The toys that they admired when they were further down the ladder soon become irrelevant as they aim for bigger and better possessions.

Money and power are drivers for many. But, whilst money can buy you things, it cannot buy you time. 

This is one of my favourite stories…

A fisherman was enjoying a snooze on his small boat that was tied up in the harbour. The afternoon sun was wonderfully warm and the only sounds he could hear were the cries of the birds above him and the waves gently lapping against his boat.

That is until a man in fine clothes walking along the harbour’s edge shouted across to the fisherman. ‘Why are you napping?’ he asked.

‘I’ve finished for the day.’

The man looked perplexed. ‘But it’s only 1.30pm. There are still hours of fishing left.’

‘I’ve caught all I need,’ the fisherman insisted.

‘But, if you continued fishing on an afternoon, within a few months, you may have enough money for another boat,’ the man said.

‘Why would I want that?’

Well, you could hire someone to catch fish alongside you. With the extra fish caught you’ll have more money. You could then buy more boats.’

‘And why would I want to do that?’ the fisherman asked.

‘More boats equal more staff, which means even more fish caught. Eventually, you could have a fleet of boats and a team of fisherman working for you.’

‘And why would I want that?’

‘A fleet of boats means you’d become a millionaire like me.’

‘And why would I want that?’

The man looked confused. ‘If you were a millionaire you could sit back and take things easy.’

The fisherman smiled. ‘What do you think I’m doing?’

The moral of the story is, whilst money is a necessity to meet our basic needs, anything else is superfluous. On your deathbed, you won’t be thinking about huge yachts or flashy sports cars, only the things you’ve always wanted to do but which you never got round to. Money may certainly buy you a fancier coffin when you die, but you’ll still be buried on the same planet as everyone else or reduced to the same as the next person if cremated.

I don’t think of myself as materialistic. I like ‘nice things’, but that, to me, means things that I think ‘look nice’. I won’t pay for brand names as I’m not someone who keeps up with the Joneses. I don’t have to have the latest thing, I don’t follow many trends, and I don’t covet much in life. 

I do play the lottery, however, simply because I have dreams that my current income can’t stretch to. Whilst, to me, my dreams aren’t worth the sacrificing of my time, if the money was handed to me on a plate, that’s another matter.

I don’t want to take over the world or own any business that sees me earning hundreds times more than my employees on the front line (this is a real biggie for me and something I just couldn’t make my peace with). I don’t work for just one employer as I don’t like putting all my eggs into one basket, and I also run my own business, which gives me the opportunity to determine some aspects of my working life at least.

My take on life is not right or wrong, we all do our own thing. However, I’m definitely the fisherman in the tale.

What are your aspirations? Which of the two men in our fable do you most identify with, and why? Tweet us @intheknowemag

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